This Green-Roofed Hotel in the Italian Alps Seems to Rise From the Earth
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This Green-Roofed Hotel in the Italian Alps Seems to Rise From the Earth

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By Lucy Wang
Designed by Plasma Studio for an award-winning resort in the Dolomites, this angular extension is anything but an alpine cliché.

Celebrated for its majestic Dolomites mountain range and extensive hiking trails, the year-round charms at the Northern Italian village of Sesto have been elevated a few notches with the Continuous Extension, a new eye-catching addition to the Family Resort Rainer, a design-forward wellness retreat originally built in 1964.

Set on a steep slope, the building features angled geometry that mimics the mountains and terrain.

Set on a steep slope, the building features angled geometry that mimics the mountains and terrain.

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As with the resort’s other architecturally imaginative structures, the nine-suite extension is a sculptural marvel that looks as if it grew out of the earth—an illusion emphasized by its sharp angles and massive green roof. 

Helmed by architect Ulla Hell, Plasma Studio designed the striking building, which echoes elements of the firm’s previous two commissions for the Rainers: the award-winning Strata Hotel (2007) and the Paramount Alma (2014), a refurbished guesthouse with an annex that houses Ulla Hell’s family residence and Plasma Studio’s Italian headquarters.

The Continuous Extension exterior is defined by coarse spray plaster, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and larch banding.

The Continuous Extension exterior is defined by coarse spray plaster, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and larch banding.

Connected via underground passageways, the three origami-like buildings share contemporary geometry inspired by the surrounding mountains. The firm’s innovative take on alpine architecture is combined with locally sourced materials, including larch, which has been used extensively in the interiors and on the banded and angular facades that echo the steep terrain. 

On the green roof, guests enjoy stunning panoramic views, a hydromassage pool, and a lounge area.

On the green roof, guests enjoy stunning panoramic views, a hydromassage pool, and a lounge area.

The covered entrance area is Ulla Hell's favorite aspect of the Continuous Extension. She shares: "It is the moment when the wooden sticks turn around from the balcony bands to become the ceiling of that space, the band turns around the ceiling to finally find the thematic conclusion when touching the ground. This space also frames very nicely the view towards the surrounding topography."

The covered entrance area is Ulla Hell's favorite aspect of the Continuous Extension. She shares: "It is the moment when the wooden sticks turn around from the balcony bands to become the ceiling of that space, the band turns around the ceiling to finally find the thematic conclusion when touching the ground. This space also frames very nicely the view towards the surrounding topography."

"Buildings that become extensions of their surroundings" are the goal, says Plasma Studio, as is "employing local materials in new and unseen configurations."

Colorful FINDEISEN needled carpets cover the floors, walls, doors—and even the lighting.

Colorful FINDEISEN needled carpets cover the floors, walls, doors—and even the lighting.

Although Continuous Extension shares many similarities with its two predecessors, from the interior design to the full-height glazing, the new addition stands out with its spacious luxury suites, which are the largest offered at the resort.

The color palette used in the Strata Hotel and Paramount Alma were carried over to the new addition. "The red and greens are complementary colors that combine well with lush green summer landscape and give a nice, refreshing feeling and contrast to the white winter landscape," says Hell.

The color palette used in the Strata Hotel and Paramount Alma were carried over to the new addition. "The red and greens are complementary colors that combine well with lush green summer landscape and give a nice, refreshing feeling and contrast to the white winter landscape," says Hell.

For energy efficiency, the architects fitted the walls with wood fiber insulation and triple-glazed windows.

For energy efficiency, the architects fitted the walls with wood fiber insulation and triple-glazed windows.

"The concept was to offer a generous stay for families in the Alps, in a place that goes beyond the cliche ‘Alpine Chic’ lodge style," explains Hell. "We wanted to offer an alternative for design-and-architecture-loving families. Some of the suites can be connected for maximum flexibility."

The nine spacious suites can sleep five to six people. Local larch is left unfinished to tie the interiors to the landscape.

The nine spacious suites can sleep five to six people. Local larch is left unfinished to tie the interiors to the landscape.

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The architects focused on natural and locally sourced materials wherever possible, from local larch to the custom-made sofas and rugs woven from local sheep wool by Hermann Kühbacher. The furnishings were mainly custom made and designed by Plasma Studio.

The architects focused on natural and locally sourced materials wherever possible, from local larch to the custom-made sofas and rugs woven from local sheep wool by Hermann Kühbacher. The furnishings were mainly custom made and designed by Plasma Studio.

Continuous Extension floor plan

Continuous Extension floor plan

Continuous Extension concept diagram

Continuous Extension concept diagram

Continuous Extension is located on the far left, the Paramount Alma in the middle, and the Strata Hotel on the right. The building between the Strata and Alma is the Rainer Hotel, a more conventional building renovated by Peter Thurner.

Continuous Extension is located on the far left, the Paramount Alma in the middle, and the Strata Hotel on the right. The building between the Strata and Alma is the Rainer Hotel, a more conventional building renovated by Peter Thurner.

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Related Reading: These Tree Houses in the Dolomites Look Like Egg-Shaped Pinecones

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Plasma Studio / @plasma_studio

Builder/ General Contractor: Dravus Gmbh

Structural Engineer /Civil Engineer: Dr. Ing. Andreas Erlacher

Landscape Design Company / Interior Design / Cabinetry Design: Plasma Studio

Lighting Design: Plasma studio / dueeffeilluminazione

Cabinetry Installation: Erlacher