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by STIRworldPublished on : Feb 04, 2023
Those who have had the chance to visit Prague in person, must have witnessed how the city embodies and holds its history in high regard. The city has balanced its built culture while adapting to the future without forgoing its past. Like an open-air, city-scale museum, its architectural fabric is stunning and includes examples from the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, which remains, renovated, and merged with modern elements, buildings, and systems. Compared to urban settlements, which, in the name of development, tear down their rich architectural stories to write new ones, Prague displays the ability to coexist and to curate a culturally wealthy urban fabric that is diverse, intriguing, and educative.
Italian architectural firm noa* network of architecture was tasked with the renovation of the Goldene Rose Hotel set in the medieval town of Dinkelsbuhl in southern Germany, dating back to the 15th century. With its mustard-yellow gabled roof front facades, the Goldene Rose has carried a distinct image for years. The ensuing redesign unites four surrounding buildings under one historic roof. The focus is on preserving the history and architectural heritage of these structures while creating a spatial language that is fit for modern use and possible future adaption.
The five-star hotel now stands as an integrated structure, a careful curation of pieces combining the past and present. Lying along southern Germany’s Romantic Road and marking the centroid of the Stuttgart-Munich-Nuremberg geographical triangle, it is one of Germany's best-preserved historical centres, with ancient city walls, defensive moats and traditional half-timbered houses. The preservation of this existing style and unique urban fabric opposite the Cathedral of St. George gave context to the renovation od this architecture. “The (project) boasts a lively building history, which has now found a new perspective,” the Italian architects relay.
The existing property is said to have hosted Queen Victoria on her journey through the city in 1891 and was one of the first buildings bought by the current hotel’s owner. It was a pure coincidence that the four neighbouring properties were gradually put up for sale, which inspired the idea of uniting all the buildings under one roof, with a focus on preserving the historic structure.
While the Goldene Rose has always accommodated travellers, the adjacent buildings hosted a variety of programmes, including restaurants, warehouses, a brewery, a cinema, a casino, a ballroom, and apartments. “Developing a unified spatial concept from this mosaic of uses, without blurring historical traces, was the architects' first major challenge. The search for the essence of the building—always one of noa*'s central guiding principles—in tandem with overcoming differences in level, compounded by drafting the functional programme while simultaneously preserving the original features, were just some of the many intricately tricky tasks of the project,” shares noa*.
The hospitality architecture comes alive through its old walls, given new and different functions, as an “architectural patchwork." The front building of the Goldene Rose overlooking the town square features a half-timbered facade design, and welcomes both hotel guests and day visitors. “Directly from the threshold, one encounters a design thought that permeates the entire hotel, which is all about the translation of the past into the present,” the architects continue. The visiting queen’s namesake bar, “Vicky”, with its black granite counter and antiqued mirror coverings greets visitors upon entry, inviting them to linger a while upon armchairs that face the fireplace. Rough plaster with an antique finish, white limed oak floors interspersed with darker planks running parallel to those on the ceiling and displays of old guild signs that give the ensemble a unique identity swiftly articulate the interior design. Next to the bar and beyond the existing main staircase, the lobby and the expansive reception area reference the existing “unevenness and maze of original walls, whose inherent design creates inviting and intimate seating spaces,” added the studio.
“The guest should be able to experience the building intensely–not only through the historic ceiling beams but also in its heights and various levels, by climbing up and down,” shares Lukas Rungger, noa* founder and leading architect.
The third house, previously an 1870 ballroom, is accessed by passing through the second building, which caters to circulatory areas and various service rooms. Hotel guests are served breakfast on the ground floor and have the option of dining in the ‘Kantine Rosine’ restaurant. This space is finished with wallpaper dressing the surrounding walls and ceilings, accompanied by lightly transparent curtains for separate, quieter areas. The inner courtyard boasts views of the adjacent cathedral, upper hotel floors, as well as the outdoor pool on the top floor. The fourth building, a former residential building also previously used as a casino, hosts a portion of the hotel design's 43 rooms and ties into the last building, formerly an inn and brewery, and now housing externally designed flats as part of the Goldene Rose.
According to noa*, the rooms of the hotel, despite being divided into three categories, share the same aesthetic and design concept, with each featuring a hanging sofa, a medieval period-inspired tapestry mounted behind the bed, and an open bathroom that flows into the room vis-à-vis mirrored, mosaic-like surfaces.
The distinct junior suites in the first building occupy two floors, with the upper one functioning as an attic with exposed trusses where the sleeping area is located. The tapestry here extends out on the floor, forming a cosy, picturesque alcove for the bed. “Our sustainability concept is also about bringing old buildings into use. In this case, we felt it appropriate to maintain the original guest room function, which perpetuates the charm and radiance of the city," explains Patrick Gürtler, the interior designer.
The hotel's true highlight, according to the creators, is the former ballroom and later cinema from the 1950s, “whose bricked-up windows were reopened during the course of the project and whose space has been converted into a multifunctional hall for events. Unfortunately, the old folding row seating could not be reused due to its lack of multifunctionality,” says noa*, who reintroduced the original upholstery pattern by printing a new fabric with the same motif. In the centre of the two-storey room (which can also be rented for external events), there is a suspended box for private viewing—the “Kino Suite” —featuring a massive window that faces the cinema screen, accessible by a footbridge. The hall can be darkened with the use of huge blackout curtains that span the entire two floors. “A pair of original glass ball lamps offer an added atmospheric illumination and a touch of nostalgia,” they continue.
A wellness area has been placed on the hospitality design’s top floor, stretching across the entire roofscape, where utmost care was taken to avoid making drastic changes to the exterior’s appearance. One can access the Attic Spa, by passing through a massage and treatment area with an adjacent terrace, where a ten-metre-long outdoor infinity pool offers a unique view of the cathedral. In an effort to make the pool design appear like a “foreign body” when seen from a bird’s eye view, noa* proceeded to roof it over—through the gable roof’s holes, swimmers can see the clouds pass by—as the pool itself remains invisible from above.
A massive relaxation area spread over two floors completes the wellness area, replete with a fruit bar and a separate sauna section, and an interior staircase leading to the attic. Here, exposed wooden beams, a cultivated intimate atmosphere, and cross-stretched netting in the uppermost peak of the attic space foster a relaxing experience for the guests.
Tying in the German town’s history and culture, the hospitality architecture preserves the buildings and the lives lived inside them over years, and welcomes many more. The redesign and renovation of the Goldene Rose is perhaps, a response to how historical buildings can be adapted for intergenerational uses, displaying a reverence and respect for the original architecture. Noa*’s intervention might not be wholly groundbreaking, but is, powerful in its own right, perpetuating a notion of how a lot of heritage structures are never fully complete, carrying a promise of embodying new spatiality and functions in its old skin, and in turn, newer generations.
Name: Goldene Rose
Location: Dinkelsbühl, Middle Franconia, Germany
Area: 4,000 sqm (ground floor area)
Volume: 13,200 cu m
Year of completion: 2022
Architect: noa* network of architecture
Client: Mack Family
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