The best of yesterday and today
Nature knows no time – it knows the cycle of becoming, being and passing away. We humans have given this cycle a direction and call it innovation. But in the process, we have distanced ourselves further and further from nature and have landed on the metaphorical hamster wheel. At the South Tyrolean Urthaler Hotel in Seiser Alm, you will forget about time. The philosophy behind the architecture of the 5-star hotel: use centuries-old building know-how and implement it with the technology of our time.
Traditional timber construction know-how – the first Holz100 hotel
Around 250 million years ago, the Dolomites rose from the primordial sea Tethys. Wind, rain and sun created the mountain formations you can admire today. Here, at 2,000 metres above sea level, you will find the Urthaler Hotel in Seiser Alm, in the middle of the largest alpine high pasture in Europe.
This hotel and spa is built entirely of wood – a “Holz100” building – meaning it was made without use of chemical wood preservatives, glue, nails or screws. The solid construction consists of staggered layers of wood connected by dowels. The bone-dry dowels are inserted between the two pieces being connected and swell due to the residual moisture in the wood. The construction timber was cut during the waning moon. This makes it particularly dense and not susceptible to pests.
When the Urthaler family and their architects first developed the idea of a completely wooden hotel in 2002, Erwin Thoma had only been offering the Holz100 solid wood system for ten years. The hotel was the first non-residential building built using this construction method.
A farmhouse oven as a model – wall heating with clay earth
For the interior design, the traditional South Tyrolean farmhouse parlour was the model – with lots of wood and pleasant warmth. In the past, a farmhouse oven made of earthen clay and stone provided warmth. In search of a modern alternative, Walter Urthaler, together with the company WEM, developed a wall heating system with drywall clayboards.
In winter, when the hiking trails are buried under snow and the slopes invite you to take part in all manner of winter sports, there is still a pleasant radiant warmth in the guestrooms of the hotel. If you are an allergy sufferer, this draught-free way of heating is particularly appealing, as no dust is stirred up.
Today, you can experience how timeless the hotel’s natural construction is almost 20 years after it was built. “Back to nature” is not a step backwards, but the integration of innovation with the laws of nature.Read more »
Clay heat storage in modern form – Drywall clayboards from Claytec
Clay earth, a natural material, is an ideal partner for wall heating. It stores heat and releases it evenly. Unlike conventional heating, in-wall heating does not heat the air but rather the objects in the room. This radiant heat is comparable to the soothing warmth of the sun’s rays. In addition, the air in the room does not move, so there are no draughts or movement of dust.
An in-wall heating system can be embedded in a thick layer of clay plaster or – as in the case of the Urthalter Hotel – clad with modern drywall clayboards. Here, 25 mm thick drywall clayboards from Claytec were used.