26 April 2017
The European architecture of the early 20th century provides numerous examples of experimentation in Alpine regions on the part of the pioneers of the Modern Movement: they include the watercolor plates collected in Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architektur (1919) and the vacation home (1930) that Adolf Loos designed for the industrialist Paul Khuner at Payerbach in the Austrian Alps (later converted into a hotel). And it was Adolf Loos again who imagined a grand hotel for winter sports near the Semmering Pass, though it was never built. The first building designed by the adolescent Le Corbusier, in 1906, was the splendid Villa Fallet, a chalet in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small city in Switzerland which is home to important watchmakers like the Maison Eberhard & Co. And again, throughout the last century, works of architecture of great significance were built in the mountains of Italy, including Carlo Mollino’s sledge lift station (1946-47) at Sauze d’Oulx and Franco Albini’s Pirovano youth hostel-refuge (1948-52) at Cervinia. It is to this attentive and cultured tradition that the South Tyrolean practice Senoner Tammerle has harked back in its renovation and enlargement of the Tierser Alpl Refuge. After a series of interventions made over the years since the construction of the original structure in 1957, the studio has given a complete and contemporary form to the building, located at the junction between the trails of the Trentino region (in the Fassa Valley) and those of South Tyrol (the Schlern-Rosengarten Nature Park). This has involved a rationalization of the spatial organization of the existing volumes, which are gathered under the extension of one pitch of the roof, beneath which runs a long panoramic window able to establish a silent dialogue between the large common room and the magnificent surrounding scenery. With the sole exception of the exposed concrete in the bathrooms, all the internal spaces are characterized by fir and larch wood finishes, marrying the identity of the location with a discreet and functional minimalism. Finally, the dormer windows set in the distinctive red roof turn their gaze on the mountains, so that their image and the sunlight can enter the rooms. An example of a work capable of uniting tradition and modernity, the Tierser Alpl Refuge won the 2015 South Tyrol Architecture Prize in the Building for Tourism category.