by Jerry ElengicalApr 06, 2022
Standing resolute at an elevation of above 1900 metres, the newly revamped Icaro Hotel is a sight to behold, enveloped in textured wood, echoing the building’s origins as a humble mountain lodge from way back in the 1930s. Witness to the picturesque setting of Italy's Dolomite ranges in South Tyrol, the structure occupies a plot along the Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) plateau within a region which is now classified as one among the numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites spread across the corners of the globe. The stereometric volume of wood that defines the hospitality design project’s current iteration was the product of an intervention by Bolzano-based firm MoDus Architects, who were commissioned by Angelika Sattler - granddaughter of the original founder of the Icaro lodge - to reimagine the hotel’s architecture and identity as part of a thorough overhaul of the property.
Mirroring the old west wing is a new addition to the existing structure, which completes the bilateral symmetry of the building’s front face - redressed in a thickened, saw-toothed larch wood skin to impart a delicate materiality that references its roots as an alpine lodge. A series of 13 branching wood columns, each 7.5 metres in height, runs across the entire length of the 55 metre façade design, imparting a dynamic sense of rhythm to the hotel’s new frontage. Carving out loggias across both of the structure’s higher floors, this colonnade extends the guest rooms outwards while stitching old and new modifications in the building together into a singular architectural expression crowned by a new wooden pitched roof. The upper floor terraces, each slightly recessed from the one below it, form horizontal striations in the wooden façade, opening up to scenic views of the valley.
As part of their refurbishment and extension of the hotel’s design, MoDus Architects also incorporated additional underground parking, new guest rooms, and separate staff quarters, alongside a completed reconfiguration of all the shared spaces as well as the pool area. The ground floor layout is defined by a succession of communal spaces consisting of the entrance, reception, shop, lounge, bar, and dining hall, ordered around an internal avenue which cuts through the centre of the layout.
Resembling an elaborate wainscoting of oak panels, with deep blue recesses that form shelves and counters displaying show pieces, the reception area has been designed like a 'cabinet of curiosities'. Its walls are decorated with heirlooms from the Sattler family’s taxidermy collection, alongside the Polychromos figurative wood carvings by Hubert Kostner and Colate vases by Nicole Valenti for VGO Associates. MoDus Architects reveals in an official release, “The juxtaposition of people, animals, books, art, objects and hospitality accoutrements explore the folkloric otherness of the local culture. In this ethos of collection and display, and in occasion of the re-opening, Icaro Hotel has launched a new exhibition series curated by the artist Hubert Kostner (whose house-atelier has also been designed by MoDusArchitects) whereby authors are invited to present their work to the international guests."
Nearby, the bar area and buffet table with their custom built Breccia marble counters anchor the gastronomically-oriented section of the program, exhibiting cloudy gray textures. Artemide’s Dioscuri fixtures decorate the ceiling as part of the lighting design. Wood-lined dining booths with banquette seating apply a touch of contemporary luxury design to the traditional aesthetics of alpine lodge interiors, flowing into the dining hall within the structure’s adjoining wing. Reinforcing this is the acoustic felt panelling with yellow moulding profiles and the braided texture of the oak plank flooring, which together recreate the characteristics of an alpine stube - a traditional stove heated farmhouse living room.
In essence, the interior design weaves together the old and new, embedding elements of contemporary artistry with traditional craftsmanship in a celebration of the hotel’s history. A staircase at the centre of the layout ushers guests to the rooms above. As part of the renovation, four new guest rooms have been distributed across the two floors of the east wing. The second floor of the west wing has been reserved for the Sattler family, allowing them to interact with guests at their vibrant new property. Among the available guest suites, the design of the 'Monocular' and 'Telescope' rooms is befitting of their epithets as viewing devices, with scintillating vistas of the mountainous setting afforded by balconies extending from them.
Bespoke elmwood side tables and angled cabinetry, upholstered niches, powder rooms, hidden shower rooms, along with drapery by Clarke & Clarke define the atmosphere of the 'Telescope' room. On the other hand, the 'Lux' and 'Grandangolo' rooms have been modified to accommodate up to four guests with custom-made beds overlooking floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Alpe di Siusi. Moreover, some of the rooms on the second floor have been altered to conform with the new roof profile. A new massage area and sheltered yoga terrace have also been added to this level’s functional spaces.
On the underground level, the swimming pool’s design has been completely overhauled to better fit in with neighbouring spaces as well as the landscape outside. A robust procession of tiled columns extends throughout the space. The designers have also incorporated an art installation of 'crying' wax by Hubert Kostner along a concrete wall within the relaxation zone between the pool and sauna, which is a nod to the mythical story of Icarus. Service functions have also been placed along this level, in addition to the new underground parking which grants a secondary point of access along a route that hosts ski rooms and electric vehicle charging stations. MoDus Architects have also set up a two-storey volume for staff quarters, dressed in tones similar to the grey plaster on the hotel’s original façade, to maintain a sense of aesthetic continuity.
MoDus Architects concludes by saying, “An eclectic and lively place, the new Icaro Hotel is an alchemy of contemporary architecture, design, hospitality, tradition, art, craftsmanship and heritage. Each space is framed to bring forth all of the goodness and imagination that comes out of travel and to bolster the sense of discovery and freedom that alpine landscapes emote.”
Name: Icaro Hotel
Location: Piz 18/1, Alpe di Siusi, Castelrotto, Bolzano, Italy
Gross Floor Area: Hotel total (5040sqm); new addition total (underground level 1360sqm, upper levels 550sqm)
Client: Angelika Sattler
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: MoDus Architects
Structural Engineer: Ing. Ulrich Kauer (KS Engineering)
Mechanical Engineer: Ing. Kurt Tröbinger (KTB Engineering)
Electrical Engineer: Ing. Mirko Beikircher (KTB Engineering)
Safety Engineer: Ing. Ulrich Kauer (KS Engineering)
Lighting Consultant: Lichtstudio Eisenkeil
Cost and Contract Management: HGV - Unternehmensberatung
Hotel Visual Identity: Camuffolab, Venezia
Hotel Communication Strategy: Anna Quinz and Kunigunde Weissenegger franzLAB, Bolzano
General Contractor: Mahlknechtbau AB GmbH
Site Work and Excavation: Kritzinger Srl
Mechanical Plumbing and Installation: Mulser Karl
Electrical Installation: Elektro Nicolussi KG