In the heart of the Dolomites, Peter Pichler, an emerging figure on the Italian architecture scene, transforms a hotel from the 1980s into a contemporary building. The central focus is the Sciliar massif, which becomes the true inspiration for the design

The mountains are part of Peter Pichler’s genetic background. Born in Bolzano 36 years ago, he resides in Milan and is a globetrotter due to the international reach of his practice. Pichler has always filled his projects with the force and vitality of the Dolomites.

We met with him in Milan on a special day: “I would never have imagined I would win and lose like this in just one day,” he said. In the morning his Oberholz Mountain Hut in Obereggen, a visionary restaurant perched on the mountain at an altitude of 2000 meters, missed out by a few votes on winning the Young Talent aware of the Gold Medal of Italian Architecture; in the evening, the same project put the architect on the highest step of the podium of the Archmarathon Worldwide Architecture Awards, surpassing a number of more experienced colleagues. His latest work, the Schgaguler Hotel at Castelrotto, in the heart of the Dolomites, a few months after opening has already made the short list of the Frame Award and the Dezeen Award.

Peter Pichler, ph. Saverio Lombardi Vallauri
Peter Pichler Architecture is a Milan based architecture and Design firm dedicated to develop an innovative and contemporary approach towards architecture, urbanism and design. Declared aim is to achieve highest possible quality, excellent detailing and the creation of an integrated strategy involving the individual needs of the client.

You must be very pleased. Tell us about the challenges of this latest adventure in Alto Adige.

The first challenge was to win the competition held in 2015 by the Schgaguler family for the expansion and renovation of its hotel. The second was to do the project in just four months, so as not to interrupt the facility’s business.

Did you manage?

Yes, thanks to our studio’s extraordinary team. We opened the worksite on 12 March and unveiled the new hotel on 15 July. High-performance construction methods and technologies allowed us to meet this ambitious deadline. An important contribution also came from the local builders, with their commitment and the amazing quality of their work. For me it is always important to rely on local expertise and materials.

How did you approach the relationship with the town and the landscape?

By creating a building that conserves its independence, but without overlooking the local context. Castelrotto was the place of reference, but above all the design was driven by the mountain.

How did you cope with that presence?

The key idea was to make the Sciliar Massif become the protagonist, bringing it inside the hotel, so to speak. Starting with the use of stone. The floor of the hall and the reception counter are in beola: a block of stone, cut with water, which immediately tells you we are in the mountains. We also made use of Dolomitgestein (Dolomite stone) treated with lime, which gives the facade the natural look of a shade of white borrowed from nature. Local materials also went into the furnishings of the rooms and the restaurant, custom made with chestnut wood, thanks to skilled artisans of Alto Adige.

The key idea was to make the Sciliar Massif become the protagonist, bringing it inside the hotel, so to speak."

In morphological terms, how does the hotel establish a dialogue with the landscape?

Through the glass facade that makes the building transparent. The Sciliar Massif seems to literally enter the rooms facing south...

...and with respect to the town?

The front on the road has the same transparency, opening the hotel to people: this is the location of the public area of the bar and restaurant. Only one suite faces the town: in this case, the iconic steeple of Castelrotto becomes the protagonist.

Are you satisfied with the results?

It is hard to make a personal judgment. I can say that I wanted to demonstrate how the tradition can continue to thrive precisely through a project of renewal. But only time, and above all people, will tell if the work is good or not.


Photos Paolo Riolzi - Article Laura Ragazzola