The setting is among fields and woodlands, encircled by the Shlern, the Rittner Horn, the Merano Alps, and the Dolomites. This is a place that’s rich in both past and future, dreams and reality. A place where a 550-year-old farm became the source of inspiration for a project with far-reaching horizons. “A Meeting of Worlds” is the title that noa* network of architecture used to announce the new Aeon Hotel, which was created by reimagining the existing architecture as the next chapter in the history of Lobishof, an emblematic rural complex comprising an old inn, a residential house, and a barn.
The architects set out to create a spatial analogy with history – a delicate link with the past through the layout and details of the new structures. In this sense, the volumes of the new buildings relate perfectly to the original.
The creation of a dual language that combines the centuries-old tradition of the rural complex and an absolutely modern statement was the basic principle underlying the design process,” explains architect Christian Rottensteiner, discussing the initial stages of the project.
The project is made up of two freestanding structures that allow the landscape to flow through and become an integral part. One hosts the common areas, including the reception, bistro, bar, and wellness center, while the other has the fifteen guest suites.
The gentle slope of the site and the layout of the outdoor spaces, which are both open and sheltered, determined the arrangement of the individual buildings, continues Rottensteiner, explaining the architectural concept.
At first glance, the buildings appear separate, creating a kind of airy courtyard between the two. Connecting them, however, is an ingenious walkway that elegantly disappears behind the scenes, passing under an artificial hill. The design language of the two buildings establishes a deep relationship with the existing structures, adopting, in a contemporary style, both the traditional gabled roofs and slanting supports of the historic barn, with the latter incorporated into the façade in the form of inclined reinforcing elements with a strong dynamism. This is an architectural trick that gives the elevations a different appearance, depending on from where you approach the project. So, while the eastern and western elevations slant vigorously outwards, the north and south elevations appear as a homogeneous shell.
Some curious features of the project are the trapezoidal windows and the pattern of vertical joists running the length of the building, which create a uniform appearance while disguising its division into levels.
Every detail of the project recalls the history of the family and the place. The timber used, for example, comes from the family’s own forest. The use of this renewable material makes the architecture accessible while underscoring its vivacity with projections and recesses that create intriguing shadows. Guests enter the building through a black steel door, decorated with the family crest, dating from 1464.
While angles are traditionally an element for load transfer and static bracing, here they were used to give dynamism to the structures and help them merge with the landscape, explains Christian Rottensteiner.
The architects have achieved a continuity between spaces through color choices, which accompany guests throughout the common areas, the wellness area, and in the suites. A delicate beige – natural, sensual, familiar – meets a mystical blue, which represents the future, mystery, and uncertainty. This expressive and clearly defined division is consistently repeated through both buildings, both horizontally and vertically.
Interior designer Patrick Gürtler explains the choice of colors: “The past is defined, like stone, wood, and nature. The future, on the other hand, is veiled, mysterious, and as intangible as the sky, the night, or the ocean. Between the two is the present – a clear, unconditional break, but also a meeting point. It’s a line that’s not intended to separate but to connect. Guests are invited to move through and experience this cosmos between contrasting environments.”
In the public building, the marked transition between beige and blue takes place at eye level – at a height of 5 1/4 feet (1.6 m) to be precise. But the defining elements of the project aren’t just the floor, walls, and ceilings. All the furnishings – from the curtains, to the furniture and lighting – are part of the same holistic approach.
Around a third of each guestroom is defined by shades of blue, while in the remaining two thirds, beige dominates. The way guests use their rooms then creates a certain amount of mixing of the two colors. The linear, light furniture, partly suspended, reflects the same set of architectural motifs, also scrupulously dividing them into the two colors. The fabric-covered walls appear dematerialized, almost making you forget about the wall behind the finish.
The result is an abstract, indefinite atmosphere that arouses curiosity and invites you on a journey of discovery with its mutability skillfully created by the clear, linear contrasts between the two colors.
ph. ©Andrea Dal Negro, ©AlexFilz, Courtesy of noa*