The aim was to improve the quality and accommodation capacity of an old high mountain hotel structure without altering the delicate landscape and environmental balance, while at the same time creating aesthetic value and sustainability: this was Noa* - network of architecture goal in the planning and expansion of the Zallinger Refuge in the Alpe di Siusi area.
The project, completed in 2017, has created new spaces without altering the existing volumes, and at the same time has returned to the historic settlement with the characteristic of the original small village. Through the solutions and materials adopted, the magic of that era was brought back to life, in both respect for the environment and traditions.
The Zallinger Hut was first built in the middle of the 19th century at 2200 meters, below the Sassopiatto. It was formerly surrounded by seven barns and a small church. Subsequently the barns had been replaced by a single large building (1880), which over time had assumed other functions. The extension was an opportunity to revive the original structure, proceeding, as well as the restructuring of the central body of the hotel, the demolition of the former barn and the construction of seven new chalets arranged respecting the original plan of the site.
Noa*’s aim was to recover the traditional structure of the South Tyrolean mountain pastures in a modern way, which resulted in the design of the new chalets. The external claddings that surround the chalets are made of blocks of solid wood appearing to be stacked together in an alternation of full and empty spaces, becoming a dominant motif of the new settlement. The outcome, inspired by the structure of the ancient barns, avoids the annoying reflections of the exposed windows, inappropriate in a high mountain context. The wooden panels are designed to be able to open at the large windows, providing a view of the spectacular alpine scenery, while when they are closed create evocative light and shadows in the rooms, contributing to the relaxation of hotel guests.
Noa*’s architectural plan added 24 rooms in the new mini-chalets and left the original 13 rooms, which were already available in the central building of the guesthouse. Each chalet has four rooms, not connected, which is accessed by a shared distribution corridor. From the constructive point of view, each unit rests on a concrete plateau, which has been contructed with prefabricated methods in wood starting from a 'custom' engineering by noa*s architects. In this way the construction site has had minimal impact on the environment, both in construction time on site, as well as the transportation of materials. The esthetics, for both the architecture and interiors are characterized by the constructive wooden walls, giving a modern “log-cabin” feel to the space.
The interior of the rooms is cosy and warm with a modern mountain-lodge character. The materials are inspired by the traditional hunter’s clothing; cushions with knitted details and felt. Some rooms have a small loft that can be used as a bedroom for kids or just a relaxing corner.
The public spaces and the restaurant
The central body of the historic lodge has been maintained but completely redesigned in the internal layout of the ground floor: the new interior design incorporates the reception, the lobby, the lounge and the restaurant. The restaurant and the lounge area have been designed to accommodate external guests as well: many skiers stop for lunch, seeing as the refuge is located on the main ski slopes of the Alpe di Siusi mountain range, while the lounge is very popular during the evenings. However, hotel guests can count on a more private and familiar area, which is focused around the large fireplace.
All the built-in furnishings were designed by noa* and customized according to the style and space, combined with a refined choice of furniture to complete the new design. A good example can be seen in the tables (from Billiani) of the lounge area that can change height: thanks to an up-and-down mechanism of the support legs, they are transformed into tables where once can dine in comfort.
The walls are covered in wood, with the idea to recreate the atmosphere of a traditional “stube” - the classic alpine room where once the family gathered around the fireplace - but with the contemporary sign of the wooden boards that seamlessly rise from the walls and on to the ceiling, behind which, soundabsorbing panels have been positioned to create maximum acoustic comfort. The choice of using a felt flooring, a traditional alpine material that combines resistance and softness, also aims to the same result.
The bar area is characterized by a huge fir tree-trunk (local essence) as a counter: a solution that brings the presence of nature inside the building with its beauty, primordial strength and its complexity in structure.
The wellness area
The wellness area stands in place of the pre-existing barn, as an independent building, with a metal-plated structure branches out, that houses the sauna, an awe-evoking environment, from the spatial point of view, with two large windows overlooking the landscape: the first looks towards the valley; the second opens on Mount Sassopiatto, with an inclination of 45 degrees (to allow the snow, during heavy snowfall, to flow to the base of the frame, leaving the view free).
The design recalls the peaks of the mountains that rise towards the sky: the wooden shelves, in fact, create a sort of bookcase, characterized by inclined upright crafts of wood and elongated compartments that accommodate the individual bottles of wine (the refined choice of labels is personally selected by the sommelier owner).
Photo credits: Alex Filz
Designer: NOA - NETWORK OF ARCHITECTURE