Prati di Tivo Gran Sasso Steven Holl
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Prati di Tivo: preserving the natural landscape

A new plaza and three building elements breathe new life into an accommodation facility in Gran Sasso National Park

Steven Holl Architects

Prati di Tivo Gran Sasso Steven Holl
By Diana Carta -

A masterplan by Steven Holl Architects, which won the competition in 2021, is breathing new life into an accommodation facility in Prati di Tivo, in the heart of Gran Sasso National Park. It includes a new community plaza and three new building elements, built over existing structures, all set at the foot of the mountain massif and against the backdrop of spectacular landscape.

The composition of the elements that make up the plan was inspired by Giorgio Morandi’s paintings, giving a material form to the architecture-like forms that distinguish the artist’s well-known works. A pictorial-like approach places each element in a frame, uniting them as if by magnetism, even where their physical appearances are quite different. The new additions to the existing buildings of the Apennine location include a spherical pavilion, a wellness center, a restaurant with tourist accommodation, and a hotel. All three new structures have copper roofing and are geothermally heated and cooled, employing the latest materials and techniques to achieve the highest ecological standards.

Prati di Tivo Piazza at Gran Sasso - Steven Holl Architects © Steven Holl Architects


>>> Read the preview of the article about the Rubenstein Commons multifunctional building, designed by Steven Holl in New Jersey


Prati di Tivo: architecture that respects the mountain

Attention to the environment in this project goes beyond the materials and technologies used, aspiring to the even higher objective of preserving the surrounding landscape while also supporting Edward Osborne Wilson’s idea of “half earth.” The American biologist made protecting biodiversity the underpinning of his observations of the natural world. The ecological alarm bells have been sounding louder than ever over the last few years, warning us of the common destiny of humans and nature, with the latter seen not as inanimate but as living matter. Life, not just human beings, is the engine that drives the evolution of the world. Design must therefore learn to serve life.

Founded on an approach that turns anthropocentricism on its head, the masterplan for Prati di Tivo is architecture that respects the mountain and listens in reverence to the silence of the stone. The project plays out in the physical dimensions of its space, while connecting to its changing ebbs and flows by focusing on integrating with the natural setting.

Prati di Tivo Piazza at Gran Sasso - Steven Holl Architects © Steven Holl Architects


Steven Holl: “mini-utopias” aimed at preserving the natural landscape

Architect Steven Holl responds to the challenge of Wilson’s message in Half-Earth with what he calls “mini-utopias” aimed at restoring and preserving large portions of the natural landscape through ecological architecture that shuns fossil fuels in preference for geothermal heating and cooling systems, and solar energy.

The approach is not only aimed at natural settings, where projects safeguard protected landscapes, but also urban settings, in which Steven Holl proposes high-density settlements in contrast with the horizontal city. The focus on environmental issues implicit in the architect’s work can even be seen in his earliest projects, such as Edge of a City Spatial Retaining Bars, Phoenix (1988), and Spiroid Sectors, Dallas (1991), both of which seem to reflect a desire to guarantee nature its rightful place.


>>> Watch the episode of The Architects Series dedicated to Steven Holl Architects


Location: Prati di Tivo, Teramo, Italy
Status: ongoing
Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Design Team: Steven Holl (design architect, principal), Dimitra Tsachrelia (partner in charge), Wenying Sun (project architect), Michael Haddy, Maxwell Funk, Yining He (project team)

All images by and courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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