WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Alex Filz
Set on a picturesque family-owned apple farm in the north east of Italy, the Apfelhotel has undergone an expansion under the direction of Italian architecture and design studio noa* that includes a restaurant, wellness centre and apple-shaped sauna, and 18 new garden suites.
The three buildings that house the suites have been designed with saddle roofs to “absorb the architectural language of their surroundings”, according to noa*, with geometric façades that aim to blend traditional and modern aesthetics. “The buildings’ outer [shells have] been deliberately kept dark in an ode to the traditional character of a barn house.”
The wellness facility – the Brunnenhaus or “Water Well House” – is the hotel’s centrepiece: a curved semi-exposed concrete shell that’s tucked into the landscape and covered in grass. Its south side opens up with a glass and steel facade to the indoor-outdoor pool, lush greenery and views of the valley.
The upper level features a sauna lounge, relaxation room, Finnish sauna and steam bath with curved timber slats and views of the orchids, and an adjacent terrace where guests can refresh with an outdoor shower. The Apfelsauna or “Apple sauna” is located in the garden and is reached via a curved open staircase.
The rural farm context and characteristics of the region were important influences for the interior design. Timber cladding, milling and coarse natural fibres are used throughout. The restaurant’s interior theme is inspired by a modern winter garden. Plants and lights hang from the unique ceiling structure. The space has been divided by cupboards and floor-to-ceiling shelves that work to create a cosy, living-room feel, but are also moveable so the space can change and adapt. Nature, quite literally, flows through the space: Guests are able to drink from a natural spring water fountain.