Pedevilla Architects are ingeniously playing with tradition at Bad Schörgau in Sarntal, Italy. Photo Gustav Willeit.

With imagination and playfulness, the architectural office Pedevilla has created a dramatic meeting between tradition and local craft. With variations of the same decorative ornaments, they combine three activities into one device. 

In the idyllic small spa town of Sarntal, part of South Tyrol, in northern Italy, resides in Bad Schörgaus older timber-inspired houses around the wooden hot tubs. The site has long since consolidated its position as a recreation and spa resort. As far back as 1689, people are sure to know that people came here to enjoy healthy baths, both in the hot tub and in the sources available on the spot. Since the late 1800’s, the current hotel has been in place, with time being carefully modernized, and in recent years the spa department has been rebuilt. Today it is a showcase of local materials – doors, floors and furniture are adorned with larch wood and the floor is covered by the mountain mining porphyry. The entrance to the spa area leads through an opening flanked by an eye-catching ornament of wood. The exquisite pattern is innovated, but originates from the tract’s older traditions. Now it has also gained an increased and clearer role in the site.

AS more guests have found the hotel, the business has expanded more and more, and two years ago it was complemented by a building that houses both a cookery academy and a showroom for locally produced beauty products. In order to maintain the warm feeling of the place, a coherent grip was required around the two new units and they also needed a natural link to the existing hotel. 

“The aim was a design that never gets boring, but it should not be so intense that it interferes with hotel guests in their quest for peace and quiet,” explains Alexander Pedevilla, architect of Pedevilla Architects and responsible for the project. 

The result became an abundant and yet discreet ornament, inspired by what the architects had already created in the spa department, whose repetitive patterns blend into the building while sparkling curiosity. A design that, on the one hand, provides a next to meditative experience for those who regard it for a long time and on the other hand, creates life for the traditionally shaped buildings.

“Because the hotel is located in the Sarnt Valley, known for its tradition of health and well-being, it was very important for us to include that feeling in the project. The ornament we chose is typical of the area and gives a rural feeling. You often see doors, walls and cabinets. We made a modern interpretation of the pattern and gave it a three-dimensional design, says Alexander Pedevilla.

THE ORNAMENT RECOVERS throughout the building, where it generously spreads over facade, inner walls and roofs. It is made of leather wood, based on a pattern repeating itself in 24 centimeter sequences, and the depth of 3 centimeters contributing to the three-dimensional structure. The pattern is based on circular elements, where the intersection of the joints creates a star-shaped pattern. Only in the ceiling are more than 1,500 stars, mounted by hand outside a healing system and then calcined, even by hand. The same principle has used the architects outside, but without the star shape, which gives a calmer impression. 

See all the projects in the latest issue of Tra! magazine.