by Jerry ElengicalJun 11, 2021
Nestled among the rolling hills of Italy’s Piedmont region in the hamlet of Cerreto Langhe amid vineyards is a new sustainable luxury boutique hotel, Casa di Langa. The architecture, planning and design of Casa di Langa is inspired by the architecture of the neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage designated area, while also carefully responding to the surrounding landscape that is home to some of the finest wines and white truffles in the world. The project has reused and redeveloped an existing building that sits on top of a small hill in a vast estate surrounded by 42 hectares of working vineyards and hazelnut plantation, as well as a wooded region that is ideal for foraging the famed white truffle mushrooms.
It has been designed by Milan-based design firms GaS Studio and Parisotto + Formenton Architetti (P+F) who worked collaboratively to execute the overall adaptive reuse design of the existing structure. The structure, inspired by the rural and historic architecture of the region, integrates local building traditions and materials to envelope the building. The architects and designers are however careful to not replicate their historical references. Instead, they reinterpret the traditional elements such as the arched porticos and the external corridors with a rhythmic brick screen that acts as a filter that ensures shade and ventilation. The bricks and the red roof tiles are archetypal elements of the region, and allow the structure to be perceived as both vernacular and contemporary architecture.
This balance was a design aspect that GaS Studio and Parisotto + Formenton Architetti were very mindful of. The brick screen in particular is the result of extensive research on the dominant colours of the built environment of Piemonte. Stones, plasters, paints, textiles, all were carefully selected to remind one of the surrounding landscapes. On the exterior of the structure, all the vertical elements such as the stucco, brick, wood and roof tiles are a shade of deep red. All the horizontal surfaces are Lucerne granite but in multiple textures ranging from slabs to blocks and pavers to gravel. There is a synergy in the colour and tonality of the building. The wooden trusses, the wall colour, flooring and terracotta screen all work together and give one the perception that they have perhaps always been a part of the structure. Yet each material retains its tactility and characteristics.
The material story of the hotel speaks not only of the architects and designers visual research but of their exploration of generational craft practices. The terracotta tiles that make up the façade were created by the Brioni family who has worked with ‘earth in architecture’ for many generations. In the interiors, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and perhaps a little more in line with what one would expect in a luxurious boutique hotel. The building is developed in a C-shaped plan that encircles an open piazza that cascades down the hillside in a progression of terraces towards the valley. The three wings of the building frame the breathtaking view that surrounds this beautiful location. Each accommodation features a spacious private terrace and a bathroom with a rain shower. All of the rooms are designed to reflect the hotel’s natural aesthetic of oak, terracotta, stone, leather and glass.
The central piazza has a monastic appearance. A trait that could be attributed to the rhythm of the brick screen or an indication of how the inspiration of the material and colour of the neighbouring heritage structures, many of which are ministerial or religious. This central void re-envisions the structure's massing and main circulation. The piazza acts as a centralising element which allows for a more rational movement pattern across the structure. It also allows the complex to add elevator access to all floors, providing guests with a direct connection to the countryside and its vista while preserving privacy.
As one descends further down the piazza, the steps follow the natural slope of the hill. At the of which there is a swimming pool. As one drives up the hill this detail is one of the first views that you encounter of the hotel. When compared to some of the other vistas that are carefully incorporated in the structure, it does raise an interesting dialogue about architecture that is conceptualised to be viewed from the inside looking out, as opposed to being on the outside looking in. This is also true when one looks at the mass of the structure as it sits on the hill.
As a hotel opening in 2021, there are a few details that are now commonplace when thinking about contemporary architecture. The primary of which is the importance of reducing the carbon footprint and the ecological impact of architecture. Ingrained in the very conceptualisation of Casa di Langa is a deep respect for the natural world and its sustainable future. Stated to be a location that inculcates ‘Luxurious Sustainability’, it is a common thread that is visible in the entire intervention. One of the ways in which they have attempted to acquire locally sourced and recycled materials. Various ecologically responsible choices were made to preserve and improve the site, which would also explain the massing of the final structure on the hill, which stays true to the hotel and its proprietor's, the Krause Group, axiom of being ecologically sensitive.
Name of the project: Casa di Langa
Area: 42 Hectares
Year of completion: 2021
Architect and Designers: GaS Studio and Parisotto + Formenton Architetti