MoDusArchitects: Icaro Hotel in Castelrotto, Bolzano


Gustav Willeit,

Bolzano, Italy,


Tradition, art and architecture come together in the renovation and expansion of Icaro Hotel in Castelrotto, at the foot of the Dolomites. MoDusArchitects writes another page in the history of architecture in South Tyrol.

MoDusArchitects: Icaro Hotel in Castelrotto, Bolzano

Sandy Attia and Matteo Scagnol (ModusArchitects) stand out primarily for their ability to work on the buildings of South Tyrol without creating figurative fractures, managing to write new chapters that have associated the studio’s identity with projects in this specific part of Italy. Hotel Icaro originated as a shelter for hikers and skiers built in the 1930s, and rose to fame over the decades, operated by the same family for three generations. The hotel is located at an altitude of 1900 metres on the plateau of the Alpe di Siusi or Seiser Alm mountains, part of the UNESCO natural heritage site of the Dolomites; surrounded by paths and ski runs, it overlooks the jagged peaks of Sassolungo and Sciliar. The area’s coniferous forests, different types of wood and links with local traditions suggest the materials and finishes used in the renovated building, while its form and composition are a result of its location in the landscape.
The original building was a single volume divided into two parts and distributed over four levels, built out of concrete with timber cladding and loggias. The double-gabled roof, also made of timber, has numerous dormer windows, creating a traditional Alpine façade. The demands of modern hospitality required construction of a new wing to the north to house the hotel’s staff, as well as a new eastern wing adding to the number of available rooms. The organisation of the hotel with wellness services in the basement, the reception desk and restaurant on the ground floor and hotel rooms on the upper floors is largely confirmed by ModusArchitects’ project, while the design of the interiors and the façades has been revised. The new east wing is a mirror image of the main body of the hotel to the west, forming an arc-shaped layout symbolically embracing the view over the valley and the mountain peaks around it. The new roof and cladding of larch panels are shared by the historic and new wings, creating a single architectural volume. The lower levels, containing the reception area and public services, are made of bare concrete with big windows in the spa area on the northern side. The walls of the overhanging upper levels are set back from the eaves to leave room for two orders of loggias. Only on the main, south-facing façade, 55 metres long, is the roof supported by a colonnade of 13 pillars of trestle construction 7.5 metres high, adding a particularly effective decorative solution to the two upper levels and evoking the building traditions of the Alps. Wooden railings and columns create a new frame through which to look out over the mountain landscape of the Dolomites from inside the hotel rooms.

This style is much like another recent project by Sandy Attia and Matteo Scagnol, in the centre of Castelrotto, the home and studio of artist Hubert Kostner, hotel owner Angelica Sattler’s husband. Use of a concrete and glass base, upper levels made of wood, pillars of larch plywood, and a layout that opens up to permit contemplation of the landscape outside seem to suggest that the architects are working on a lexicon for a new form of architecture in South Tyrol. Their highly recognisable exteriors correspond to a precise interior identity achieving a new synthesis of the rustic image of the mountain shelter with the trendy spa resort. To ensure continuity and stay true to tradition, wood is featured in all the interiors, too, with floors of interwoven oak planks and woodwork recreating the “stube”, the traditional living room of Alpine homes, heated by a wood-burning fire. But wood is interpreted in a new way, in association with brightly coloured fabrics and furnishings. The style of the seats, armchairs, coffee tables and sofas in the reception area and the bar is particularly comfortable, seemingly inspired by the style of an urban interior. This is a form of domesticity that rejects simplicity in favour of luxury, care and comfort. In the reception area, the architects have underlined the owners’ personality by exhibiting family treasures, crafts, furs and stuffed animals, as in a “cabinet de curiosité” evoking Alpine folklore. Here and there in the common areas are works by local artists such as Michael Sailstorfer, Philipp Messner, Roland Senonder and Hubert Kostner himself.
Since 2010, Icaro has been the first hotel in the Dolomites to achieve zero impact on climate. Energy is obtained from hydroelectric power plants, with gas heating, ecological cleaning products and compensation of CO2 emissions through certified climate protection programmes. The hotel qualifies for EU Ecolabel certification of sustainable, conscious environmental management.

Mara Corradi

Architects: MoDusArchitects (Sandy Attia, Matteo Scagnol) www.modusarchitects.com
Team: Sandy Attia, Matteo Scagnol, Filippo Pesavento
Location: Piz 18/1, Alpe di Siusi, Castelrotto, Bolzano, Italy
Client: Angelika Sattler
Competition: 2018
Design phase: 2018-2021
Construction phase 1: 2020 (staff building, swimming pool, underground parking garage)
Construction phase 2: 2021 (east wing with 8 guest rooms, ground floor interiors renovation, new roof and facade)
Completion: August 2021
Hotel total (5,040 sqm); new addition total (underground level 1,360 sqm, upper levels 550 sqm)
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
Photographer: © Gustav Willeit
Photo stylist: Anna Quinz

01-24: © Gustav Willeit
25: Icaro lodge 2000s © courtesy of Icaro Hotel
26: MoDusArchitects Icaro Hotel facade model © Jürgen Eheim


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