Majestic peaks and small lakes, fir and larch, chamois, golden eagles, green meadows dotted with alpine rhododendrons in summer and soft snowpack in winter… Crisscrossed by hiking trails and ski slopes, the Seiser Alm is a paradise in the heart of the South Tyrolean Dolomites. In the municipality of Castelrotto at 1,900 m above sea level, Europe’s largest plateau offers prime views of the rocky profiles of Sassolungo, Sassopiatto and Sciliar.
Alpine huts and hotels must respectfully take their place in this unique Unesco World Natural Heritage landscape, protection of which begins with architectural work, particularly in the hospitality sector. The approach adopted increasingly is to renovate existing buildings, refurbishing them while respecting their historical identity, as in the case of the Icaro Hotel, the 1930s chalet MoDusArchitects, founded by Sandy Attia and Matteo Scagnol, reimagined as a modern wooden volume with geometric shapes.
Commissioned by Angelika Sattler, granddaughter of the man who founded the historic Icaro rifugio, the design added an eight-bedroom wing plus a staff quarters building, as well as reorganizing all common spaces – including the wellness area – and expanding the basement parking lot, adding new ski rooms and e-bike charging stations. Externally, the building is faced in sawtooth larch cladding. A spacious loggia stretches along the front in a sequence of 13 trestle pillars.
Inside the Icaro Hotel, contemporary design, Alpine tradition, art and craftsmanship all combine in an eclectic blend of materials, textures and furnishings. Occupying the entire ground floor, the lobby is a succession of common spaces: entrance area, reception, shop, lounge, bar and restaurant. Wooden alcoves furnished with fabric-covered sofas exude a warm mountain retreat ambience, while the marble monoliths by the bar counter and the buffet express the restaurant’s contemporary cuisine. A traditional wooden stube covering on the ceiling becomes a surface of acoustic felt panels punctuated by a yellow carved molding.
Woven oak plank flooring provides the connective tissue among the various spaces. The same wood returns as full-height wood paneling throughout the reception, shop and lounge areas, punctuated by blue niches containing family heirlooms, stuffed animals, books, local craft pieces and artworks. Hubert Kostner curated the hotel’s reopening exhibition program among local artists.
New rooms in the east wing, where the walls are clad in elm, spread over two levels. The second-floor suites feature a massage area and a covered terrace for practicing yoga. With wellness a cornerstone of the project, the basement was completely redesigned by opening it up to the Schlern massif, offering a sauna and a swimming pool enhanced by polished mosaic tile cladding.
Location: Castelrotto, Bolzano, Italy
Client: Angelika Sattler
Extension Gross Floor Area: 1,910 m2
Architect and Interior Designer: MoDusArchitects
Main Contractor: Mahlknechtbau
Structures and Safety: KS Engineering
Mechanical and Electrical: KTB Engineering
Lighting: Lichtstudio Eisenkeil
Quantity Surveyor: HGV
Photography: Gustav Willeit, courtesy of MoDusArchitects
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