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Noa crafts a gravity-defying wellness retreat in South Tyrol

Noa crafts a gravity-defying wellness retreat in South Tyrol

For its latest South Tyrolean realisation, noa* returns to Hubertus in Olang, one of the first locations to reveal the studio’s expressive capabilities. Following the renowned cantilever pool, a new suspended platform defies gravity law by challenging the concept of wellbeing.

During the early research phase, the architects analysed the new beginning circumstance and captured the house’s atmosphere within its environment. The design concept arose from observing the surrounding scenery reflected in the swimming pool, intending to materialise what one sees mirrored on the surface of the water as if the image were a temporary depiction waiting to be changed into reality. It is a concept that experiments with the horizon line, the sense of being upside down, and points of view. Lukas Rungger, the architect in charge of the project and Founder of Noa*, explains, “The essence of this project is the overturning of horizons, with the effect of wonder for the observer. If you think about it, however, changing perspectives is a common exercise in wellness areas, where, depending on whether you are lying in the sauna, sitting in the relaxation area, or diving headfirst into the pool, the views are constantly changing”.

The new structure is positioned on the southeast side of the façade, symmetrically with the swimming pool. Like the pool, it is separate from the main structure: the platform rises 15 metres above the ground and is supported by two pillars wrapped in larch logs, identical to those that punctuate the façade behind. The wellbeing area is accessible via a suspended walkway that also leads to the newly constructed relaxation area, which can accommodate up to 27 people.

On the platform, separate microstructures with gabled roofs house the functional programme on two levels. A startling part is the lowest level, where the horizon rotates 180°, and the huts appear to be anchored upside down. The two levels have differing approaches to seclusion, with exposed spaces above and covered spaces below. On the second floor are two whirlpool baths, two panoramic showers, and a changing room. The lower floor is free of textiles, with the entrance located in the central, enclosed area. From here, one can access the soft sauna, the Finnish sauna, a shower cabin, an ice mist shower, and a third outdoor pool with a view of the surrounding countryside.

“The lower level of the platform causes a feeling of estrangement in the observer. As one descends, the temperature rises, and the environment becomes more protected. It feels like a descent into the earth’s centre, with the poles reversing, ‘sums up architect Gottfried Gruber, who supervised the project.”

The decision to use inverted-pitched roofs is motivated by both formal and functional reasons: on the one hand, the desire to replicate the architecture of a mountain village, and on the other, the practical need to allocate the water purification system for the swimming pool and the seating tiers for the sauna in the inverted roof. Furthermore, the offset of the huts and the alternating orientation of the roof ridges provide a 360-degree perspective of the countryside, which is the true focal point of the project.

The colour and material palette complements the mountain scenery: the cabins are wrapped in natural brown aluminium panels, as is the thickness of the slab, which is produced by a steel load-bearing beam framework. The brise soleil system screens the windows and is made of the same material and colour. The floors are light beige ceramic, with oiled white oak in the relaxation area. In this new task, noa* was able to rekindle Hubertus’ creative energy by building a platform with a 20-meter overhang that serves as a new floating outpost between heaven and earth. A project where the force of gravity appears to evaporate, allowing for unforeseen circumstances

For more information, visit: https://www.noa.network/

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