Hotel Silena, Valles, Italy - Photo © Alex Filz
Hotel Silena, Valles, Italy - Photo © Alex Filz

Client: Hotel Silena, Mair family
Architecture & interior design: noa* network of architecture
Furnishings: custom made by Flatz & Windisch and Weissteiner – Bloomingville, Covo, Gervasoni, Grattoni, Norr11, Stampfl, Talenti
Lighting: Catellani & Smith, Dedon, Faro, Frandsen, Light Point Copenhagen, Led Tec, Marset,
SLV, Wever & Ducré
Bathroom: Alice Ceramica, Gessi, GSI, Hansgrohe, Kaldewei
Upholstery: Schenk
Flooring: Besana, Joka
Tiling: Ragno
Wall covering: Glamora, WallyArt, Wall&Decò
Doors: Aster Türen
Windows: Castlunger
Pool technology: Winkler Christian
Sauna: Carmenta
Photo credits: Alex Filz

Bonsai trees, lanterns, and prayer wheels are among are ubiquitous references to Asian culture. Walking through its halls is almost like going on a trip to the East. The experience is all the more unexpected considering its starting point: Valles, an Italian hamlet in Rio di Pusteria among the lush Alps of Alto Adige. Here at Hotel Silena, a feel of the mystical and far-away finds space in a realm with a powerfully traditional, evocative effect as two cultures, geographically and conceptually distant, meet.

The client, the Mair Family, was indeed inspired by a trip to Asia and experiencing its culture and rituals. So much so that they wanted to recreate and give the experience to their guests in their own hotel. This was the starting point for the renovation project designed by noa* network of architecture, completed in two phases: the first major work started in 2017, and the more recent project added to the hotel with a new entrance, six new suites, and a wellness area, all with even stronger Asian influences.

Starting from the entrance to this world, there is a metaphorical boundary line with a wooden doorway made with Asian techniques, adopting the purity of the traditional wooden composition of horizontal and vertical trusses interlocked at the joints. The Asian-inspired concept of the lobby exudes an evocative power with pine bonsai trees, vertical boulders of local stone, lantern-shaped lights, and walls of Tibetan prayer wheels (wooden cylinders that turn with a simple touch). This makes for a space of calm and serenity, added to by a stone fountain, a new fireplace area, and cozy niches for sitting. This all removes the rigid quality of the classic check-in area, which is intentionally placed to the side.

The “new” does not replace the “old” but rather comes to support it. The classic Tyrolean “stube” living area is given space here, dating to the origins of “Moarhof” (present-day Silena). Its historic quality, rustic style, and old wood are highlighted by the direct relationship to the bar area, which features minimalist platforms for the tea ceremony. Christian Rottensteiner, architect and project lead says, “The stube and tearoom are separated from one another by a mere thin door frame: they seem to make the transition between origins and future of Silena visible.”

There is an understated but constant connection to the local area as seen in the use of dark oak, the connecting material of the entire building, and a reference to the surrounding landscape of the peat bog. All the wood furnishings are made of oak, also used for the floors in the hotel’s six new suites. It is here that the harmonious merging of the two cultures finds its most sublime expression.

The platforms that define the individual bedroom areas, mediation corners, and tea ceremony tables suggest the idea of an Asian room. Likewise, the wooden dividers with geometric motifs or glass and wood create illusory boundaries between the bedroom and bathroom areas, and then the individual terraces, designed like outdoor rooms. Every suite has a small garden with a bathtub, small flower beds, and curtains.

noa* paid the greatest tribute to the East in its new wellness area on the top floor, inspired by the Japanese “Onsen” springs. The spa includes a relaxation area, showers for traditional purification rituals, and an outdoor pool whose water is 40 degrees C with steps in exposed black concrete, and the water flowing in an infinity effect. Every part of Hotel Silena was conceived to be part of a meditative ceremony that comes from the East and stops at the Alps.