Plečnik Award 2006
Piranesi Award 2006
Golden Pencil 2006
Mies van der Rohe Award 2007 shortlisted
ArchDaily Building of the Year Award 2010 finalist
Type: invited competition, first prize
Year: 2003
Status: completed 2006
Ssize: 13.300 M2
Budget: 12.000.000 EUR
Client: Terme Olimia
Location: Podčetrtek, Slovenia
Project team: Dean Lah, Milan Tomac, Eva Matjašič, Petra Ostanek, Anže Zalaznik, Mojca Žerjav, Darko Vasiljevič
Landscape architecture: Bruto
Structural engineering: Elea iC
Mechanical services: Proinstal
Electrical planning: Elita IB
Photo: Miran Kambič

Wellness Hotel Sotelia fills the gap between two existing hotels, neither of them hiding their different architectural origins. The new hotel does not try to summarize samples from nearby structures but rather clearly distances itself from the built environment and connects, instead, with its natural surroundings.

In the design process the primary concern was to avoid immense building mass, like the one suggested in the client’s brief, which would have blocked the last remaining view of the forest behind. The originally foreseen single volume is therefore broken up into smaller units arranged in landscape-hugging tiers. Individual sections of the building are placed to overlap one in front of another, and as a result, the four storey, one hundred fifty room building appears much lower and smaller than this description would suggest.

The specific shape of the hotel is a direct result of seeking to link with the landscape. The unique structures offer passers-by diverse spatial experiences. From the front the building is perceived almost as a two-dimensional set composed of parallel planes placed one behind the other. A clear division between the glass facades of the public part and the wooden paneling of the hotel rooms is unified with a raster of vertical elements made out of natural wood and visually interacts with tree trunks in the background. Yet just a short walk around the hotel reveals entirely different views. The surrounding terrain is cut and folded into stripes of greenery that, supported with a seemingly impermeable plane of vertical wooden beams, form the volumes of a greater building.
While the exterior is relatively serene, the interior is more dynamic and expressive. With design principles like blurring the clear line between inner and outer spaces, its connection with nature remains the most important and consistent feature apart from aiming to maximize each guest’s privacy. Every room, for instance, has a private balcony with carefully directed views over green roofs, offering the impression of close proximity to the ground, even from the fourth floor. The public program opens up as a single space throughout the hotel and is defined by slight changes of materials and by numerous bamboo-encased columns. While forming support for the structure, these columns also contain the ambient lighting, sound speakers and all the technical elements needed for heating and cooling the public areas. And it is these columns – tree trunks by day and pillars of light by night – that divide the open public space into more private areas, offering comfort to the visitors.

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