NOA designs for full immersion in the Dolomites • Hotel Designs

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Adding new spaces and functions to a mountain hotel without affecting the harmony with the landscape, on the contrary, creating a better integration with the surroundings is the guiding theme of the project by NOA for the Olympic Spa Hotel, in Vigo di Fassa – a property with a tradition of hospitality dating back to 1963. The plan to expand the current premises with an annex and a new sauna was an opportunity to define a ‘mimetic’ and sustainable intervention model, which will allow the hotel to grow and offer its guests an even more exciting immersion in the beautiful Dolomite scenery.

guestroom in natural materials with view onto mountainside and central courtyard open onto plants on the inside

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

“As with other similar projects, we started with a general concept,” explained Stefan Rier, Architect and Co-Founder of NOA. “We know from experience how important it is to always define an overall vision. Even if (as in the case of the Olympic Hotel) we initially only focus on one part of the project, what we build is not a stand-alone element, but becomes the first step of an overall, wider-ranging plan, that will develop over time.”

view across snow to hotel facade by NOA imitating the shape of the mountains behind

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

The key idea in NOA’s design was to shift the centre of gravity of the hotel from the provincial road, which most of the existing rooms overlooked, to the slope behind it, which slowly declines, turning into a forest, until it reaches the Avisio stream. The project envisaged the construction of the ten new rooms along the slope, partially buried and connected to the hotel by an underground passage. The sauna, on the other hand, is a separate wooden building, located on the edge of the forest, in an elevated position facing the treetops and accessible via an atmospheric aerial pathway. The emphasis is on direct contact with nature, which is also supported by the used materials, by the façade design that plays with the mountain skyline, by the terraces and the special interior patios embedded in the larger rooms.

wooden sauna designed by NOA with suspended pathway leading to it from the hillside in Italian Dolomites

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

The new building, which accommodates ten guestrooms and a gym, is characterised by its distinctive profile, inspired by that of a mountain. At one end, a higher spike identifies the double level of the largest suite, then the roof descends, with lower height spikes indicating the single-level rooms and at the other end, the fitness studio. This silhouette, highly recognisable in its graphic simplicity, is intended to become the hotel’s architectural signature.

The colour palette of the materials used, also recalls the surrounding landscape. The sloping pitches and external walls are plastered in a grey colour reminiscent of the Dolomite rocks with the use of forms and materials in symbiosis with the landscape. Sustainability considerations were key during the entire project, which was implemented with local firms and the partial burial of the structure is designed to limit the built volumes as much as possible.

In the extension, the burying of part of the structure offers guests the feeling of closer contact with nature. Access from the hotel to the annex is also via an underground path. Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a large terrace overlooking the landscape. The new rooms are named in the Ladin language, a culture to which the owners’ family is very attached. Thus, the four ‘Te Bosch’ rooms pay homage to the forest, an inspirational element that shapes the interior.

grey concrete and wooden surfaces with glass window looking out over mountains in front of a suspended hanging seat

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

Each of them has an internal patio with transparent walls, creating a private space accessible in every season and bringing light and nature into the room. The vegetation of the patio, the presence of a birch tree and the view of the sky become part of a new experience for hotel guests who can, for example, imagine themselves outdoors while taking a shower. Or, in winter, they can see snow falling from both sides of the room, with the feeling of being in the middle of an alpine forest. Or, again, they can sleep outside on summer nights, on suspended beds equipped with double sleeping bags and admire the starry sky, given the lack of light pollution.

In the five ‘Te Aga’ rooms, dedicated to the element of water, there is a stone fountain from which pure mountain water from a spring at 3,5000 metres gushes out. A benefit that the hotel offers with the aim of banning the use of plastic bottles. Oak and larch from the Fassa Valley are used in all the rooms, both for the floor and the furnishings. At one end of the building, at the highest ‘peak’ of the façade, is the two-level suite. The sleeping area is on the ground floor, in an area lowered by three steps to create more intimacy and give movement to the volume of the room. The first floor, on the other hand, is entirely dedicated to relaxation, with the sauna, emotional shower and wellness area making use of the volume of the characteristic double-pitched attic, looking out over the forest.

black wood interior of sauna with end wall in glass and views onto the dolomite mountains

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

The new sauna is an elevated construction with eye-level views of the tree canopies. Made entirely of wood, externally clad in larch and internally in spruce treated with black wax, it blends into the forest and offers an impressive panorama of it both from the interior windows and a side terrace. It can be reached directly from the hotel via an aerial walkway, which leaves the meadow below free (where, by the way, the ‘Marcialonga’, the famous cross-country skiing event, passes by every year). Therefore, access to the sauna is only outside, even in winter, a choice that intends to promote a strong and direct contact with nature.

concrete walls and structure frame triangular view onto the surrounding mountains

Image credit: Alex Filz / Noa

The structure of the annex is made of reinforced concrete, with a portion of green roof, where the building is buried in the slope.“This is a solution that we are proposing especially for hotels, where we often have large volumes,” explained Rier. “The choice of burying a part of the structure reduces the volumes and is an interesting solution, especially in attractive mountain areas like the Dolomites.”

All the furnishings are made to measure in oak with knots, a choice that reflects the hotel’s green vocation and links with Alpine tradition. Even in the shapes of the furniture, continuity with local styles has been sought. Light, natural colours dominate, flanked by green, which recalls the shade of the beautiful pine forest in front of the rooms.

Looking ahead, the hotel development plan includes the construction of further guesthouses similar to the first one and a new wellness area. The central building will also be restyled. In particular, the façade will be redesigned with a wooden structure that will recall the profile of the peaks. To reduce the perceived built volume and the environmental impact of the project, it is planned that the ground floor will be buried, creating a hilly landscape where the new facilities, all underground, will be located.

Main image credit: Alex Filz / NOA



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