Castelrotto, Italy – As we reported recently, ‘tis a season of change in the South Tyrol hospitality industry. Long known for its bucolic agriturismo spots and Alpine-traditional businesses, the Italian region is revamping its hotel offerings to cater to guests looking for Dolomite skiing and high-end beekeeping – experiential authenticity, yes, but with some added visual comforts.
The foodies, the wellness hunters and the design enthusiasts are crossing the border no matter the season to figuratively and literally search for greener pastures
This responds to a particular set of challenges: due to the topography, space is usually limited, so most projects are renovations for romanticized Tyrolean architecture built pre-1970s – that’s where names such as Othmar Barth’s left their mark. While this appetite for renewal was mostly visible in public buildings and large commercial spaces, the hospitality industry has recently jumped on the chairlift with gusto: with around six million visitors a year and close to 30 million overnight stays, the tourism industry is a strong force in the local economy.
Nevertheless, the numbers took a hit throughout the recent recession, but recovery in the 2017-2018 season has been noteworthy: compared to the previous winter season. And when these would-be tourists from neighbouring Austria and Germany came back after nearly a decade in hiding, they weren't just looking for snow. Instagram happened in the meantime, so the foodie-epicureans, the wellness hunters and the design enthusiasts are now crossing the border no matter the season to figuratively and literally search for greener pastures.
A new hotel in the village of Castelrotto – also known as Kastelruth – is a great example of the architectural impact of this trend.
The most commendable aspect of this project is how the seemingly untouchable exoskeleton is so skilfully linked to programmatic interior use
Designed by Peter Pichler Architecture, is a reinterpretation of the both the folkloric style of dwellings in the region and the alpine landscape that surrounds it. The most visible element of that translation? In the main façade, the typical sloped roof of the Tyrolese houses and the tapered geometry of the surrounding mountains turns into a set of three home-like monolithic structures.
The most commendable aspect of this project, though, is how that seemingly untouchable sharp-angled exoskeleton is so skilfully linked to interior use, both in orientation and program. For example, the volumes have less depth in the north/east façade, as it bears mostly corridors and public spaces inside; the south façade, on the other hand, has more depth and looks out with a set of loggias that provide natural shading.