This article was originally published on Domus 1075, January 2023.
“Emphasising the emotions a place can convey is the leitmotif of our practice.” These are the resolute words of Stefan Rier, who, in 2011 together with Lukas Rungger, founded the studio noa* (an acronym for “network of architecture”), based in Bolzano and Berlin, following a series of design experiences in the tourism industry.
Their initial idea was to specialise in the hotel and hospitality sector. But over a few years, two additional partners came on board and the practice expanded to its current team of 30. “We always go on-site to appreciate the location’s peculiarities and highlight its potential,” continues Rier.
We tried to invert the views, leading them all towards the omnipresent nature to give the impression of being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by greenery.
This is precisely what happened with one of their recent designs, the ten new Natural Suites of the Olympic SPA Hotel inaugurated last June in Vigo di Fassa. “The hotel overlooks the street and – with a more spectacular view – the mountains, the valley and the river. We tried to invert the views, leading them all towards the omnipresent nature to give the impression of being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by greenery. Only the building’s entrance faces the street.”
To accentuate the landscape, the studio sought to bring it inside thanks to large windows and the patios of several suites, with a large tree that seems to emerge from the architecture. The exterior concrete cladding is mixed with dolomite rock, presenting a grainy texture reminiscent of the nearby Dolomite Alps. Local wood was used for the interiors, with spruce and larch left as natural as possible. In other suites, a small spring provides fresh mountain water.
Sustainability was treated from different perspectives. “With the client, the Pellegrin family, we searched for the best strategies: heating, insulation, infrastructure (we thought about how guests would arrive), and the use of local materials and labour,” explains Rier. Opened in January, a new sauna suspended five metres off the ground among the trees completes the design.