The art of good living
Maria Giulia Zunino
Alex Filz, Andrea Dal Negro
noa* network of architecture
Enclosed within 7-metre-high walls, the Monastero Arx Vivendi consists of two buildings overlooking a garden, one a 3,800 square metre structure dating from the seventeenth century and now converted into a hotel, the other a transparent, contemporary volume devoted to wellness.
Located in the town of Arco close to the shores of Lake Garda, the new hotel’s name is a reference to the building’s original monastic function, to the name of the town and to the owners’ intention to offer guests an experience based on ars vivendi, the “art of living”.
The facility was designed by noa*, the young team of architects founded by Lukas Rungger and Stefan Rier who have added yet another project to their list of hospitality buildings, all of which testify to their skill in creating a powerful sense of place.
“This was the first time we had worked on a listed historic building,” says Francesco Padovan, “but we liaised closely with the Architectural Heritage Office and what had initially appeared to be a limitation actually turned out to be an opportunity to explore a fresh perspective. Our renovation project was guided by the monumental and spiritual nature of the existing building. Its rigorous spatial grandeur gives it a timeless quality. It is remarkable how each floor had a different layout: the ground floor was concentric; the first floor centred around the imposing 50-metre-long corridor punctuated by the ceiling beams; and the attic defined by the ceiling trusses. We maintained all of these characteristics.”
On the ground floor the common spaces are concentrated in the spectacular cross-vaulted central area encircled by a ring-shaped corridor with an old terracotta floor. On the first floor, the cells arranged in groups of 2 on either side of the corridor serve as the guest rooms. And in the attic, the corridor and bedrooms (a total of 40 plus 3 suites) are illuminated by the new full-length skylight. The choice of white, grey and black colours, the custom-made furniture and the materials are all factors that help maintain a sense of history. On the upper floors, the connecting spaces are paved with Stoneone slabs from Marca Corona, a material that brings together the unique character of stone and the elegant functionality of porcelain, while the bathrooms are dominated by the powerful stone look of Ceppo di Gré from Marazzi’s Mystone collection.
Warmer colours were chosen for the new wellness area. Oak stands side by side with the “Sensi of Casa dolce casa” porcelain tile collection designed by Matteo Thun & Partners for Florim, inspired by the grainy texture of the earth. The furniture is all custom-made and includes a swinging crib. The joyful atmosphere extends throughout the wellness area.
“Here everything references the local identity. The seven volumes abutting onto the white stone wall, a conceptual continuation of the pillar sustaining the former irrigation channel, evoke the simplicity of rural lemon houses,” explains Francesco Padovan. The alternation between these volumes and the green courtyards creates a dynamic play of solids/voids, of projecting/recessed spaces, a checkerboard pattern that dictates the layout of the garden with its central swimming pool and profusion of palm trees, olives and cypresses typical of Lake Garda.
Marazzi Mystone Ceppo di Gré, Marca Corona Stoneone, Sensi of Casa Dolce Casa
Marazzi, Ceppo di Gre, 60x60 (floors, walls, washbasin tops)
Marazzi, Ceppo di Gre, 30x60 (showers)
Marca Corona, Stoneone Gray, 60x60 (connecting spaces)
Florim, Sensi of Casa Dolce Casa, 80x80, white fossil
Florim, Sensi of Casa Dolce Casa, 80x80, brown fossil (swimming pool and hammam base)