The easiest way to give virtually any structure a more mysterious air is to paint it black. Somber and dramatic, the color has a psychological effect on viewers, calling to mind all the darkest and strangest aspects of our universe, from shadows to the black holes in outer space. When paired with traditional architecture, black paint can carry connotations of witches in fairy tales, but pair it with more contemporary structures, and an entirely different mood emerges. In the case of one alpine hotel overlooking a forest in South Tyrol, Italy, the effect is surprisingly complementary to all of the rocky crags and rich shades of green found in the surrounding landscape.
Designed by the local firm Pedevilla Architects, Hotel Bühelwirt is a modern take on the classic hiker’s hotel. Such lodgings can be found in mountainous regions all over the world, serving as gathering points for travelers seeking a deep connection to the nature in the area. Often remote and sometimes only reachable by way of a long hike, these accommodations are also typically as rustic as their surroundings, empasizing warmth and comfort above all else. Hotel Bühelwirt is located on an elevation called Buehel in the hamlet of San Giacomo, so deep into the Italian Alps that it’s nearly in Austria.
If you look closely at the hotel in person, you’ll realize that within its blackness is actually a very dark shade of green inspired by the nearby Black Forest. The shade was also chosen to mirror the look of the mountains on a cloudy day. The wood itself is locally sourced, like most of the other materials used for the project. The jagged shape of the black volume spills down the mountain from an original, much more conventional inn built by the current owner’s grandparents, acting as an extension that adds 20 new rooms, a restaurant, and a wellness area to the existing facilities.
Step inside, and you’ll find a series of serene guest rooms with a light, airy feel that sharply contrasts with that of the exterior. Every one of the rooms looks out onto the landscape through a spacious window with a built-in lounge area, perfectly framing the views. Minimally furnished but wonderfully cozy, the rooms are finished in a soft cloud-gray plaster, which itself is brightened by the presence of larch wood siding. Modern chairs by Prostoria transform into spare beds on demand. Some rooms even include telescopes on their balconies and freestanding bathtubs.
The restaurant boasts a strategically placed play area for children and a kitchen for guests who prefer to prepare their own meals. A sauna with stepped seating looks out onto the garden and a gorgeous river below. Spa access, breakfast buffets, picnic snacks, and dinners all come complementary with each stay. Double rooms are available for around €60 per person.
Hotel Bühelwirt was a finalist in the “Interior and Architecture” category at the 2018 AIT Awards, a world-renowned architectural awards ceremony.
“The reduction of things to their essentials…the characterization of traditionally necessary things…the demand for convincing clarity and simplicity in architecture…and the conscious need for architecture to express its purity — those are all the basic parameters within which Pedevilla Architects work and create,” explain hotel owners Michaela and Matthias Haller.
“‘The connection between today and the world of yesteryear…the connection to the locality and its history: that makes the difference. And now the expansion of the traditional inn with this advanced architecture which, though spectacular, will still seamlessly integrate itself into the landscape.”
All photos by Gustav Willeit