Master Thesis
Theme: Visiting an Alpine landscape – Hotel Saladina
 
Team: Vanessa Salm
 
in collaboration with Prof. Hermann Kaufmann, Associate Professorship of Architectural Design and Timber Construction at the Technical University Munich
 
all images: © Vanessa Salm 2020

In terms of building in the Alps, a logical and direct design approach was chosen, which should pursue a clear and uncomplicated formal language. After extensive research at the beginning of the design process, it became clear that special importance must be attached to dealing with Vorarlberg’s building tradition and its architectural local ties. At the same time, this new hotel should have a contemporary appearance, free of any stereotypical clichés.

 

The architectural concept was inspired by the so-called „Montafoner Haus“, or rather its inner organization and the materials used. Typically one would enter these houses via the out part of the house, built of natural stone, and was found in a hallway kitchen, an area which both served the purpose of arrival, as well as containing the stove, etc. Furthermore this part was mostly located on the weather exposed part of the house or facing the slope side of the property. The remaining living spaces were built in traditional wood construction and were located on the sunny side of the property.

 

Translating the interaction of mountain and forest, stone and wood, of hardness and softness, from the natural space of the Alpine world into a architectural design and provide it with a direct, logical and constructively effective function is imposed.

 

In order to achieve an integration into the building tradition of the Montafon region and the townscape of Gaschurn, despite the scope of the space program and consequently the size of the volume, to this conceptual idea was adapted to the design.

The approximately 50-metre long volume of the design for the Hotel Saladina is positioned parallel to the north-eastern boundary of the site, drawing the entire length of the property. The building presents itself as a coherent, uniform volume, which, however is divided by a height difference of two full storeys into a front and a rear part. This decision was mainly made due to the neighboring buildings, the difference in level within the property and the scope of the interior program.

 

The volume sits quite close to the building fabric of the neighbour at the eastern end of the property, but meets it somewhat respectfully due to the reduced number of upper floors. The north adjoining property, on the other hand, has not yet been developed and currently serves as a parking lot for the center of the village. Due to this wasteland and the visual distance to the village, it was assumed that therefore the hotel would be able to present itself optimally, also looking from the valley station in the south and the downhill slopes by increasing the total to a five-storey volume.

 

In order to ensure that the building is well integrated within the property as well as towards the river, the soil at the rear part of the building, at the southern boundary of the property was removed exposing the first basement level. The garden however is still protected from direct view by a natural border in the form of a small bank and lush greenery. The choice of a pent roof means that the building is clearly oriented towards the south-west, opening up to the scenery of the river and its banks, the mountain peaks in the distance and Gaschurn’s ski slopes.

The northern part of the building serves as a kind of concrete disk or backbone of the hotel, over which the hotel is not only entered, but which functionally combines all access areas and secondary uses, as well as cooking and wet areas. Due to the mass of the total volume, however, a coarse-pored concrete instead of natural stone was chosen as a contemporary alternative. This backbone is furthermore expanded by five centrally located cores.

 

For the living and recreational areas, both in the apartments and the common areas of the hotel a timber frame construction with solid wood ceilings is used, which „interlocks“ with the concrete cores and therefore also creates constant dialogue between the materials on th inside of the building. The volume also dissolves in its density from the northern to the southern façade and finds its own unique character. Finishing in a constructively independent balcony layer.

 

The monopitch roof not only serves to orientate the volume, but also is used as a kind of connection between the solid back and the light, inserted wooden body attached to it. The roof stretches over the wooden construction into the concrete part and ends with a flush eave to enhance the effect of the backbone additionally. This detail is particularly striking on the western facade on which the interaction of these elements is made visible.

The organisation of the program was formulated quite simple and clear in order to offer the visitor/resident an easy orientation on the one hand, and on the other, to ensure smooth and uncomplicated processes for the hotel and restaurant business. The ground floor is designed as a completely public area, which is divided at regular intervals by the cores.

 

After entering the hotel the guest can easliy choose whether he either wants to quickly retire to his apartment via the hallway, or if he wants to use the public space alongside open facade. For example, in the Bar area with sun terrace at the beginning of the building, the food boutique, which is and expansion remains flexible, a lounge area with seating or the boutique Restaurant (approx. 40 seats) with a direct view of the garden at the rear end and therefore most intimate area of the ground floor.

The first basement, which is largely open to the outside, functions almost exclusively as a wellness and spa area. On the one hand, the guest has a spacious spa with steam bath, two themed saunas, cooling facilities, a treatment room and a own relaxation room in the eastern part of the building. On the other hand he has a fitness area, a Swimming pool including a sunbathing area and a separate relaxation room in the western half of the floor. It is possible for the guest to enter the garden directly as well as during his stay, for example in the spa, after a sauna, or after a visit to the pool house.

In order to address a large number of guests there are apartments on the upper floors of different size and design. The 52m2 apartments offer space for approximately three sleeping places, the 70m2 about five beds and the 100m2 apartments, depending on the furniture, about seven. All floor plans of these apartments, with the exception of the corner apartments, basically follow the same principles. One enters through a thick wall, with an embedded Wardrobe. Shortly after reaches a large dining area with built-in kitchen functions which functions as a central middle room or hub and leads into an open plan living area. This space offers access to the balcony as well as to the respective bedrooms.

Since the corner apartments are also the largest units are these entered from the side of the corridor. They are inserted from north to south and thus receive light and views from three exposured sides. Just as in the hotel’s common areas, the constant dialogue of the contrast between the materials is also used in the apartments. The kitchen is built into the deep concrete wall and the bathrooms are integrated into the continuous concrete cores. The living and sleeping areas, on the other hand, are mostly made of wood or have plastered surfaces, to give the room a calm and warm atmosphere. Along the northern facade are two staircases, elevators and cleaning rooms, as well as a storageroom for each apartment, which the owners of the flat can use all year round to store personal belongings, while the apartment is available for rent in the hotel business.

The south façade, as well as parts of the west and east façades, have been designed with generous glazing in order to provide good lighting for the deep floor plans of the apartments and to allow guests wide views into the nature and the surrounding area. Furthermore it gives this part of the building volume a light and transparent appearance. The timber frame construction of the façade is covered with solid three-layered wood panels in the upper part of each floor in order to visually frame the window areas, to give the façade a constructive and visual depth, and to minimize the amount of renovation work if required after several years.

 

The continuous balcony level in front of the building is suspended at regular intervals from the cantilevered double rafters in the monopitch roof by flat steel bars. If privacy concerns arise, a folding element similar to a window shutter can be considered here, which visually separates the residential units from each other when occupied.

 

The generosity of the glazing and regularity of the individual elements create the impression of a uniform, yet precise and differentiated surface.

 

The northern façade, and thus the part of the building cast in concrete, forms a material change and stands in a strong contrast. But also here the surface and plane of the facade was to be emphasized. However, not only to unify this volume in itself, but also to strengthen the idea of the backbone of the hotel. To comply with the materialistic reference to the rock, its hardness and massiveness, the coarse-pored concrete is given a material thickness of 50 cm. This monolithic expression also gets emphasized through the deep, bevelled reveals of the flush window openings.

This design for the Hotel Saladina ultimately stands out from conventional hotel buildings not only because of the tension between the materials used, but also because it is based on generosity, layout and flexibility of the apartments and common areas, fits especially to the needs of guests with a longer stay.

 

Furthermore, does the appearance and overall concept of the building aim for an integrative and at the same time novel approach for the townscape of Gaschurn. Thus the draft provides a possible answer to a contribution to contemporary and sustainable tourism in the Alps and the Montafon region.

 

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