Wood takes centre stage in this dream hotel renovated by InnoReneW CoE

InnoRenew CoE collaborated in the reconstruction of Hotel De Len, which was recently recognized among best new hotels by National Geographic.

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Hotel De Len
Photo: Helenio Barbetta. Styling: Chiara Dal Canto.

InnoRenew CoE collaborated with the Italian company from Venice Gris+Dainese Architetti in the reconstruction of the landmark Hotel Impero which has been renamed Hotel de Len. The hotel has been recently recognized among the 42 best new hotels according to National Geographic, and winner of the Snow Queen category, which is dedicated to hotels in the mountains.

The alpine getaway Hotel De Len is located in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, in Cortina d’Ampezzo, and in the local language, Ladin, ‘de len’ means of wood. The reconstruction of the hotel was also a subject of a research conducted by the Gris+Dainese Architetti, University of Primorska, and InnoRenew CoE.

Photo: Helenio Barbetta. Styling: Chiara Dal Canto.

For the first time in Europe, the object of a study was a hotel: the experimentation was mainly focused on the use of wood as an element of well-being. Dr. Michael Burnard, InnoRenew CoE Deputy Director with the support of other InnoRenew CoE colleagues, advised the architects on the smart use wood indoors and outdoors, including the use of recovered wood and how to avoid problems with moisture through detailing and coatings. He also advised on the human – wood relationship, a critical part of creating comfort and maintaining a connection to nature indoors. He provided information about the interaction of wood and other elements of buildings, including lighting, human interaction through touch, cleaning, scents, etc. Since the hotel is designed for active visitors to the mountainous region, extra consideration was given to maintaining health and well-being by providing visitors with in-room or on-balcony spaces to stretch or exercise with physical supports.

Photo: Helenio Barbetta. Styling: Chiara Dal Canto.

“The collaboration was really a pleasure. The architects at Gris+Dainese were really dedicated to creating a beautiful and comfortable hotel that matched its environment, offered something extra to its clientele, and maintained a deep connection to sustainable construction and operating principles,” said Dr. Burnard.

The reconstruction was completed in late 2021, and in December of that year the hotel officially opened. The new hotel is an excellent example of combining a traditional material like wood with modern design concepts to provide a beautiful, comfortable, and sustainable building for visitors, employees, and the environment.

The first thing you sense when arriving at the new hotel is the smell of wood, which gives you a feeling of safety. The project is based on sustainability and well-being. The structure’s form and the overall concept intertwined with the surrounding environment, pays particular attention to respect for the environment and the well-being of people. The whole vision is inspired by nature and rurality. The local workers collaborated together on this project and shared knowledge – artisans, blacksmiths and carpenters. The most used materials are fir first patina, with an ancient scent and the ability to rebalance the psychophysical state, and pine, known for improving the quality of sleep and for its antibacterial properties. Cortina d’Ampezzo now has a hotel that mixes modern design with the ancient material of wood.

The hotel rooms are referenced to the alpine tradition. Each bedroom has been treated and designed to create an optimal and biocompatible sleeping experience. The restaurant area offers the  concept of food sharing, based on home-made plates. The first floor is designed as a living room with fireplace, and the hotel has also a spa with mountain views.

Photo: Helenio Barbetta. Styling: Chiara Dal Canto.

Sustainable construction with a focus on occupant wellbeing is a core research topic at InnoRenew CoE. The organisation is dedicated to finding optimal solutions for healthy built environments, placing well-being and comfort as a priority for built environments, and to fostering a green transition in our society.

This article has been originally authored by Michael Burnard and Lea Primožič, InnoRenew CoE researchers.