When Network of Architecture (noa*) was asked to expand the traditional South Tyrolean restaurant Schönblick with a new hotel, the firm knew that preserving the site’s spectacular views would be a key design objective. As a result, the architects opted against adding a new level in favor of embedding the hospitality spaces into an existing hill — a solution that noa* says not only retains views of the Dolomite scenery but is also less invasive and more environmentally friendly. Terraced into a hillside, the new hotel rooms have been placed beneath an old, existing barn that the architects also renovated to house the hotel’s reception, lounge and breakfast hall.

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old wood barn on hillside with mountains in the distance

Named after the Gfell meadows (prati di Gfell) area and placed adjacent to Schönblick, the three-star Gfell hotel was designed to immerse its guests in nature with vast glazing that frames spectacular views and a natural materials palette mainly comprising unprocessed durmast wood with neutral, rough-fiber upholstery. The hotel’s main entrance is located in the old barn, which was carefully renovated to preserve its traditional appearance on the exterior and introduce a modern and cozy aesthetic to the interior.

Related: Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol

gabled wood building
fluffy white bed facing glass walls

Gfell’s 17 guestrooms are located in the two partially underground, terraced levels beneath the barn. Each room includes massive glazed walls revealing Dolomite views as well as a wooden terrace to extend the living space to the outdoors. Guests also have access to a wellness space equipped with a sauna and a relaxation area.

round tables and plush dining chairs in room with exposed wood ceiling
large sauna room

“It’s an earth shelter construction that reduces the impact of the operation without taking any views away from the restaurant, whilst in actual fact, providing all the guests at the new hotel with a spectacular panorama,” explained Andreas Profanter, architect and noa* partner. The hotel is also equipped with high-performance insulation and pellet-powered heating and hot water systems that the architects say “guarantees zero impact on carbon emissions.” 

+ noa*

Photography by Alex Filz via noa*