Amidst the Austrian Alps, green meadows, a small lake and mountain air: in Leogang, a wellness refuge that noa* network of architecture has expanded with a spa and restaurant focusing on the four elements

It was originally a farm with guest rooms. Today, with 76 rooms and 14 chalets spread out to form a small village, it is a resort dedicated to ecotourism. The sustainable philosophy characterises the entire range of activities and services, the cuisine, architecture and wellness. The family-run Puradies hotel undoubtedly lives up to its name (in Latin, it means pure, unspoilt day) for those seeking relaxation and for sports enthusiasts.

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A natural extension

Between nature (alpine landscape) and the built environment (existing building) in this corner of Salzburg, the noa* network of architecture project began. Before the extension, Puradies did not have a swimming pool, but only a pond with wooden walkways, an element that was central in the definition of a new spa concept comprising wellness, relaxation and sports areas and the Ess-Enz restaurant.

The four elements: fire, water, earth and air

The architecture and interior design studio took the theory of the four elements as a starting point for the Puradies extension project. Fire is vibration, it purifies, from its energy springs life. Water is the source of life: fluid, it adapts, without changing itself, until it overcomes the obstacles it encounters. The earth, memory of the here and now, solid and lush, is a symbol of rootedness, it welcomes life and nourishes it. The air with every breath regenerates, intangible and precious.

In harmony with the landscape

"Our idea was to integrate the new building as homogeneously as possible into the landscape and to avoid building in height," explains architect Gottfried Gruber. The volume, which houses a fitness and yoga room, lounge and relaxation areas, a children's pool, an adult pool and the Puradies restaurant, is in fact harmoniously integrated into the landscape. The two poles towards which the rooms are oriented are the bathing pond to the north and the hill to the south: this creates two balanced facades, both welcoming, regardless of where you approach them from.

Respecting the genius loci

The green roofs of the Puradies echo the visual continuity of the meadows, while inside the building, the individual spaces are characterised by large windows open to the north and south. The new wellness wing, with its volumes and projecting roofs, emerges from the ground like a hill and then disappears again sloping down into the meadow. In this way, it preserves the view of the landscape and the expanses of tall grass characteristic of the area.

Perspectives and points of view

"In the interior, we have worked with the four elements: fire, air, earth and water are reflected in different forms in each room," says interior designer Regina Traar. The element of fire can be seen in the fireplace room of Puradies, a two-storey room connecting wellness areas and restaurant: the central element is the suspended fireplace, framed by the wall artwork of a local artist, Michael Lang. Cushions and plants decorate the space, which is covered with sisal fibre carpets that recall the earth element. From here, one reaches the new yoga room, which can also be used as a relaxation area thanks to a series of pull-out loungers. Finally, a staircase leads from the lounge to the mezzanine seating to the new restaurant.

Water, air and earth

Continuing on to the lower level, one arrives at the Puradies children's pool, where earth and water meet. The organically shaped pool has a slide and is surrounded by 'alcoves' that invite you to retreat for rest or play. Each alcove is furnished with a wooden floor, low cushions, loungers and armchairs upholstered with outdoor fabrics, as well as sisal fibre carpets and lamps with yarn lampshades. Above the pool, overhead metal structures allow for a suspended green setting. Outside, a loggia protected from wind and sun, furnished with armchairs and small tables, opens out towards the lawn and the pond.

An indoor and outdoor pool

The main pool at Puradies extends outwards to become an outdoor pool. Sun loungers surround the pool, while in the centre of the room a slightly raised platform is the highlight of this environment. From here, one can enjoy the view across the pool to the lake, wrapped in linen curtains that fade in light and dark tones towards the floor. The airy space contrasts with the rough wall that runs through the entire wellness area, an obvious reference to the earth.

The Ess-Enz Restaurant

On the upper level, the new Ess-Enz à la carte restaurant in Puradies represents the fusion of the four elements. The large glazed facades and skylights, which, like cuts, divide the roof, suggest lightness and allow views of the lake, pool and sky. Inside, wooden profiles, as if recreating the relief of the mountain, hang from the ceiling and act as supports for the hanging greenery. The laser-cut wooden lamps sway in the air, as if in weightlessness, while the fabric-covered seats root the design to the earth.

A sun terrace open to the landscape

Next to the restaurant, the sun terrace of Puradies opens up to the mountains and meadows: the eye is caught by the sharp profile of the projecting roofs, whose silhouette changes according to the angle of observation. Between the two volumes, an open space influences the perception of the landscape. From two relaxation rooms, one in natural stone dedicated to the earth element and the other with sisal fibre surfaces and fabric compositions dedicated to air, one descends to the basement level to reach the main swimming pool, completing the cycle of the wellness area at the point where the building re-enters the landscape.

All photos are by Alex Filz.