Architecture is a flower
Valerija Fa Milić & Vladimir Milić | Unihouse Studio
The building we look at in this article is a hospitable and rejuvenating work of architecture in a legendary location, named after a very special flower.
Located in the Carpathian mountain range about 200 km southeast of Belgrade, the 1565-metre-high Rtanj mountain with its precise pyramidal geometry in keeping with the rules of the golden ratio is a legendary place, considered to be the abode of the ancient gods of Serbia.
The new building is set in woodland inside a nature reserve close to the sacred mountain. For miles around there are no other human settlements except for the remains of an abandoned mine.
Opened in 2020, the Ramonda Mountain Hotel and Spa offers 21 suites and guest rooms, an indoor pool and spa and a spectacular open-air bio-pool fed with mineral-rich water originating from a spring discovered in the 14th century. Filtered only by plants and natural algae, the water runs down from a pond in a series of gentle steps into the pool.
The architectural project fits in perfectly with the location, as architects Valerija Fa Milić and Vladimir Milić, principals of the Belgrade-based practice Unihouse, explain: “Rather than mimic the forms of the surrounding nature, we interpreted the natural forces that forged the environment, such as crevices in the terrain and mountain ridges.”
The architects reimagined the tectonic and climatic forces that transformed the landscape, transcending and presenting them by means of the spatial organisation and coordination of the artificial volumes. They created a dialogue between the mountain terrain, with its massive and rigid presence, and the free, multifaceted structure of the roof surface. As they explain: “The project was coordinated as a kind of symphonic drama, leading us to compose volumes that do not imitate the rock formations of the surrounding nature but have the same tectonic and genetic origins.”
Everything else derives from this identity: the facilities designed for the comfort and pleasure of guests, from the private areas to the restaurant and terrace, from the lounge bar to the small library with its extensive collection of comic books, to the fluid interchange of perspectives throughout the interior and exterior spaces, the tactile quality of traditional materials, the ubiquitous presence of water and the natural atmosphere of the bio-pool.
Covering a total area of 3,800 square metres and built at a cost of €5.5 million, the hotel derives its name and logo from a flower, an endemic local plant called Ramonda serbica that is also known as the Serbian phoenix flower because even after being dried and pressed in a book for two years, when put into water it comes back to life. In exactly the same way, the hotel aims to revive and regenerate its guests!
The project features ceramic tiles from several collections by Florim: the La Roche series, reminiscent of a densely layered stone, is used in the lounge bar; the Flowtech metal-effect collection was chosen for the fireplace; the Maps collection used in the bathrooms reinterprets the austerity of concrete; and the sensation of authenticity and references to manual material processing are the hallmarks of Matières de Rex, which was chosen for the wellness area reception.
Surrounded by water and matter, light and trees, the architecture becomes a kind of common language, explain the architects, a connection between the built environment and the surrounding nature, between human beings and their natural origins.
Rex, La Roche de Rex
60x120 - 60x60 - 40x80
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,08%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 140
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme