The Hubertus Hotel’s new wellness center on a floating platform
Nature’s reflection on water is always fleeting, soon dematerializing and changing. But creativity and architecture can capture this reflection. In this case, crystallizing it into a structure that, in its uniqueness, can be seen as an inversion of the local horizon, with the majestic peaks of the Vedrette di Ries group and the imposing Collalto in the foreground. And it was the beauty of Plan de Corones and the Valdaora Valley that inspired the design of the Hubertus Hotel’s new wellness center, set amidst the lush greenery of Sorafurcia in Alto Adige. Called Hub of Huts, this upside-down village designed by noa* network of architecture again takes up the studio’s desire to defy gravity as seen in its 2016 design of the cantilevered swimming pool at the same hotel. And it was precisely by taking another look at the design of this pool that the project team found a new way to interpret both the landscape and the hotel, and arrive at a composition based on straight lines and turning things upside-down.
With large windows that take in views of the Dolomites, this floating platform dedicated to mind and body mirrors the position of the swimming pool and is connected to the new relaxation area of the hotel by a suspended walkway. The overturned village is therefore separated from the main body, its cantilevered structure floating at a height of 50 feet (15 m) over the ground. The lightness of the structure is accentuated by the columns covered in larch trunks.
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Hub of Huts is a fusion of local tradition, innovation and technology, and the relationship between humans and nature. Alternating open spaces, narrow corridors, and outdoor pools, its basic cells are single microstructures with gable roofs, inside of which are saunas, showers, whirlpool baths, and wellness and spa areas on two levels. And it’s the lower level of the two that’s the most distinctive feature of the project: by rotating the horizon 180 degrees, it appears as four upside-down huts connected by the central foyer.
“The lower level of the platform causes a feeling of estrangement in the observer - commented supervising architect Gottifried Gruder -. As one descends, the temperature rises, and the environment becomes more protected. It feels like a descent to the center of the earth, with the poles reversing.”
The lower level has a soft sauna, a Finnish sauna, a shower cabin, and a cold mist shower. It also offers views across the valley, towards the mountain peaks and the blue of the sky.
The connection to nature is also underscored by the choice of materials and color palette, with the aluminum cladding panels of the cabins and the window louvers brown, beige ceramic floors, and white oak used for the relaxation room floor.
“The essence of this project is the overturning of horizons, with the resulting effect of wonder for the observer - added Lukas Rungger, the architect in charge of the project and founder of noa* -. If you think about it, changing perspectives is a common exercise in wellness areas, where, depending on whether you are lying in the sauna, sitting in the relaxation area, or diving headfirst into the pool, the views are constantly changing.”
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Location: Valdaora, Alto Adige, Italy
Architects and Interior design: noa* network of architecture
Client: Hotel Hubertus (famiglia Gasser)
Built up area: 460 m2
Executive Project and Statics: IPM Ingenieurbüro
Thermo Plant: Herokal
Fire Protection: Jud & Partner
Electrical Plant: Elektro Winkler
Lighting Design: Lichtstudio Eisenkeil
Photography by Alex Filz, courtesy of noa* network of architecture