With the renovation and expansion of the Zallinger Refuge at the Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi, a new model of hospitality was born and serving as a good example of responsible tourism and a historical and landscape recovery intervention in a high mountain context.
The 19th-century barns are reborn as mini-chalets, which bring back the charm of an alpine village. The South Tyrolean tradition is combined with comfort, quality of design and sustainability. The ClimaHotel was built with maximum environmental protection in every aspect of the construction. noa* has long been committed to developing innovative models of receptivity and green tourism.
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*s 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.
"In this project we have also tried to bring out that strong relationship between architecture and context, which characterizes all our works. We want to propose new models of life and hospitality that on the one hand recover traditional forms and materials, on the other hand express quality of design, high levels of comfort and sustainability. The alpine environment is a complex and fascinating system that must be understood and respected. We think it's important to think of new spaces and ways to inhibit it: environments on a human scale, comfortable, welcoming, but above all unique and authentic". Arch. Stefan Rier
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 Subsequently the barns had been replaced by a single large building (1880), which over time had assumed other functions.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.
Sustainability, respect for the mountains and direct contact with nature are the principles that have guided all design choices. For example, in the design of the new rooms, careful use of the space was made to provide high levels of comfort in relatively small sizes; the roofs wood shingles, typical of the South Tyrolean tradition, were used; all the materials have been certified and the complex of buildings, heated by pallets, has obtained the Clima Hotel certification. It was even decided not to illuminate the paths connecting the chalets and the shelter, to avoid light pollution and allow guests, equipped with lanterns, to admire the charm of the starry sky.
It is significant that along with the refurbishment of the Zallinger, a plan has also been launched to minimize the flow of cars in an area that has seen strong visitor growth in recent years. Starting in 2014, the Zallinger property, with the support of noa*, involved 6 other refuges in the area in the construction of a single collection point for the guests' cars located in the valley. This structure is nearing completion, but already in 2017 the arrivals to the guesthouses occur only by bus or, in winter, with the 'snow cat'.
Noa*’s architectural plan added 24 new rooms in the chalets and left the original 13 rooms in the central building of the guesthouse. The chalets are always in pairs. Each chalet has four rooms, not connected, which is accessed by a shared distribution corridor. 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.
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*. 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 sustainable mission of the project is also expressed in the fact that the property has renounced the '4 Stars' classification of the hotel, in order not to increase the volume of the building to the detriment of a negative impact on the landscape: Zallinger's challenge is to offer a receptivity luxury through the quality of the spaces and services without increasing the surface square meters in a macroscopic way.
The studio was founded in 2011 by Lukas Rungger and Stefan Rier in Bolzano; in 2018 a second office was inaugurated in Berlin (Germany). noa* is a network of young architects and designers, which explores an interdisciplinary approach to each project and a holistic strategy for constructive and material choices. The dialogue with the landscape is an important aspect for all of noa*’s work, which interprets the alpine tradition according to a contemporary language aimed at a continuous aesthetic and formal research.
Stefan Rier was born in Bolzano in 1979. He graduated in Interior Design at the 'Andrea Palladio' Study Center in Verona and in Architecture at the University of Ferrara.
Lukas Rungger was born in Bolzano in 1977. He graduated from the Technical University of Graz (TU Graz). Both of them, after a decade of experience at national and international studies, they returned to Milan, where they met at the atelier Matteo Thun & Partners.