From Switzerland to Germany, innovative works of architecture for healthcare by Matteo Thun & Partners. Immersed in uncontaminated nature, they comply with the zero-kilometer, zero CO2 and zero waste paradigm
Projects Matteo Thun / Matteo Thun & Partners
Photos courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners – Article Antonella Boisi
On several occasions, we have illustrated the fact that in the field of hospitality the studio Matteo Thun + Partners develops turnkey architectural and interior design concepts designed to “guarantee aesthetic and functional durability and to communicate an ideal of healthy living,” as Thun puts it.
When Interni published, for example, Vigilius Mountain Resort, and more recently the JW Marriott Venice Resort & SPA (Interni no. 651, May 2015). The concept becomes even more perceptible in projects for healthcare facilities, built around “the idea of a patient as guest, whose wellbeing is boosted by a good relationship with the context.”
On these pages we present The Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence project at Bürgenstock, on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, partially completed, and a preview of other facilities still in progress, The Hospital Campus and Rehab Center at Eisenberg, Thuringia (Germany) and the hot springs complex at Bad Wiessee, on the shores of the Tegernsee in Bavaria.
We talked about this series of works with the architect from Alto Adige, co-founder of the Memphis group with Ettore Sottsass in Milan in 1981 and then founder of Matteo Thun + Partners in 2001, based in Milan, Munich and Shanghai.
What are the guiding coordinates in these recent projects?
“The first, fundamental parameter is the fact that physical space and wellbeing are closely connected. Even more so when the guest is a patient to be accompanied in a psycho-physical path of remise en forme. This is why every detail of these places comes from the pursuit of a holistic harmony with the genius loci.
Authenticity, warmth, a slower pace, personalized services, high levels of technology, special ergonomic furnishings…these are some of the key terms. The linguistic expression is always a process of subtraction that ‘creates no waste’ and acknowledges the importance of fitting buildings into their context, with low ecological impact. The environmental sustainability of a project, in fact, does not have to do only with energy efficiency, but also with aesthetic values.”
How is your philosophy of the three zeroes (kilometers, CO2, waste) applied in the Waldhotel Health project?
“Given the fact that sustainability is the conditio sine qua non, the Waldhotel – a building with 9 stories and 161 rooms and suites – is made with carefully selected materials. Starting with the facades, inspired by the Alpine Walser tradition, using the gabion system of metal screens filled with rocks recouped from excavation on Mt. Bürgenstock. The result is total fusion with the context.
The walls conserve their original stone; the flat green roof, with natural insulation, fits perfectly into the landscape; three horizontal cuts, thanks to the form, create three open canyons used as gardens, supplying aromatic herbs for the restaurant. The external terraced structure of the building makes use of local larch wood, to provide shade and protection for the pergolas against weathering.
The energy efficiency of the hotel is optimized by the orientation of the rooms, all facing south, and the use of water from Lake Lucerne for heating and cooling systems. The water is also used for irrigation and for the indoor and outdoor pools of the wellness area. The facilities also offer a sauna space and a fitness center with avant-garde training gear.”
The visual and functional enjoyment of nature is the starting point of the project, emphasizing the search for symbiosis with the landscape…
“Of course. The warmth of oak and teak, the rigor of stone, the color of bronze, the Alpine nature framed by full-height windows and reproduced on furnishing fabrics (in green, red-violet, earth tones) or on the wallpaper with its decorative botanical patterns return in every private or communal interior. Like the red thread of a healthy lifestyle. We should not forget that the Waldhotel is part of a larger complex, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne: a 5-star hotel with healthcare facilities (including hot springs).”
With 4200 square meters set aside for medical services, how does the complex approach the theme of hospitality?
“At the start of their stay, guests receive an assessment of their state of health from a team of physicians, therapists and specialists, with the aim of optimizing the available rehab or prevention treatments. The holistic dimension of health combines nutrition (gourmet cuisine, also with educational courses), physical exercise and relaxation. A library and four conference rooms offer situations of silence, water, greenery and light, to help guests recharge their batteries.”
In this line of research, what special characteristics can you describe in the projects still in progress?
“At Eisenberg, in Thuringia, we are designing the architecture and interiors of the Hospital Campus and Rehab Center, the largest and most important orthopedic hospital in Europe. We are making the structures in wood, in keeping with our three- zero philosophy, relying on local suppliers and craftsmen. The core of the hospital campus will be a large plaza with natural light – a luminous marketplace with lounge areas, a cafe and a terrace for relaxation.
The double rooms of the patients will have their own winter gardens (verandas) and a good level of privacy. The perspective is always to make the patient be the center of attention. We should remember that the terms ‘hospital’ and ‘hospitality’ come from the same Latin root: hospes, the guest. A sustainable work of architecture, efficient, respectful of people, can influence our wellbeing, whether we are in a hotel or a hospital.
The hot springs facilities at Bad Wiessee, in the south of Germany, on the other hand, have a configuration that comes from the stimuli offered by the natural habitat. The springs provide a very rare mixture of iodine and sulfur that is excellent for the treatment of a number of ailments. The spaces will feature various treatment cabins, for both medical and wellness therapies.
The design incorporates the existing flora and the natural presence of water in private patios, offering direct, vital communication with the landscape while still protecting the privacy of patients.”