Silena | NOA

Mühlbach / Italy / 2022

97 Love 13,004 Visits Published

Silena: The Alps meet Asia

Architecture that spans the history of multiple generations has always had a certain allure to it. Like that of the historic ‘Moarhof’, today known as Hotel Silena. Located at the far end of Valler Tal, the hotel has recently marked a new chapter in its history that bears the signature of noa*.

In 2017 the family that owns Hotel Silena decided to make a striking architectural change based on a bold and unusual decision. The 2022 transformation is the second the house has undergone, and completes a concept that began five years ago, also carried out by noa* studio. The structure has been enriched with a new entrance, six new suites, and an adults’ wellness area, thus bringing the original concept to fruition.

It was during a long trip through Asia that the owners developed a passion for the customs and rituals observed along their journey, and which they chose to integrate as central elements of the hotel design and concept. It was therefore obvious to integrate classic elements and ambiances associated with the Asian world even more so than in the initial intervention. The entire concept of the interior draws on this imagery, both in terms of material and colour composition.

This already begins in the newly designed entrance, where guests pass through a round wooden portal crafted according to an Asian technique that captures the purity of traditional woodworking. The piece is simply constructed of horizontal and vertical trusses, interlocked to one another at the joints. To place further importance on the 

welcome, the walls of the entryway have been painted black using a rough trowel technique with mineral finish: thus transforming the entrance into a sort of tunnel and intensifying the passage that punctuates the beginning of the holiday.


Particular emphasis has been placed on the moment of arrival: visitors are welcomed into an open space, and the eye is free to meander along the axis that stretches from the northern entrance toward the indoor garden to the south. This relaxing atmosphere invites guests to take a moment to rest and have a drink upon arrival. The stone fountain, newly designed fireplace area, and cosy seating alcoves damper the rigidity of a classic check-in. This intention is emphasized by the placement of the reception desk to the side. Echoes of Asia are subtle yet omnipresent and reveal themselves in the form of dark wood paired with shades of blue and grey, delicate pine bonsai trees in ceramic pottery, vertical boulders of local stone, and discrete lantern-shaped lights. An entire wall is dedicated to Tibetan prayer wheels: wooden cylinders that with the touch of a passer-by’s hand are set into a perpetual spin. Crisp lines create a harmonious atmosphere and give a resounding calmness and depth to everything. Like an annex to this scenery lies the classic Tyrolean stube — the very heart of the original Moarhof — its history, rustic style, and original wood are further highlighted by its direct proximity to the new bar area featuring minimalist tea ceremony platforms.

“The stube and tearoom are separated from one another by a mere thin door frame: they seem to make the transition between origins and future of Silena visible.” - Christian Rottensteiner, Project Lead Architect 


Dark oak acts as a reference material and fil rouge throughout the building. The surrounding bog landscape that gave the original farmhouse its name (Moar means “marsh” in local dialect) permeates throughout the building and is echoed in its colours and materials. All custom furniture was made using oak, and it is oak that is used for the floors of the hotel’s six new suites. Despite belonging to three distinct categories with dimensions and furnishings that subtly vary between them, all the suites are bound together by a unifying room design and concept. A powerful sense of connection to the ground is present in every room, with individual areas delimited by the podiums they each sit on, such as the bed, the meditation corner, and the ceremonial tea table, which can be lowered into the floor and out of sight. This arrangement draws on the Japanese tradition of creating small, well-defined spaces. The Asian room theme continues out onto the individual terraces, conceived as outdoor rooms: each suite features a small outdoor garden equipped with a bathtub, small flower beds, and curtains, evoking symbolic elements of the culture’s rich origins.

“Everything is connected to that which touches the ground: the bed, the tea ceremony platform, the meditation corner — there is always a podium situation that shifts the centre of gravity downward when standing inside the room. So you remain firmly rooted to the ground.” - Christian Rottensteiner


The 30 to 55 square meter suites are characterized by an alluring interplay of light and shadow, of visibility and intimacy. The geometrically patterned wooden room partitions contribute significantly to this, perpetuating the lively play of light that enters through the patterned aluminium panels of the façade. The separation between the sleeping area and bathroom is intriguing and even illusory at times: inspired by Japanese rice paper walls, noa* created a partition composed partly of opaque glass panels, partly semi-transparent 

glass, and in some places of open panels, to maintain a relationship between the two spaces and evoke flow in the ambiance. Two ceramic, tulip-silhouetted sinks are reflected in the vanity’s glass countertop and underlaid wallpaper. While the vanity is located away from the window in the bathroom, the shower is positioned right up against the window, favouring a direct relationship with the open air. The building’s façade ensures privacy, transforming the terraces into a semi-private space. Guests experience a pleasant feeling of seclusion and at the same time a magical view of the surrounding landscape.


In the new wellness area on the top floor, noa* has designed a retreat and wellness zone reserved for adults and inspired by Japanese Onsen springs. Here there is a relax area, showers for traditional purification rituals, and an open-air pool maintained at a constant 40 degrees. The pool’s design, with exposed black concrete steps reminiscent of volcanic stone, creates a striking textured mise-en-scène. The water that flows over the infinity edge and ripples across the rough concrete surface creates unforeseen reflections and becomes part of the ubiquitous meditative ceremony at Silena.

How far can one go without breaking old traditions while simultaneously introducing new impetus to an unfolding story? With this project, noa* has answered this question in an unconventional manner. Forms were taken up, materiality continued, the new juxtaposed with the existing. In a traditionally alpine place, where the mystical and the enchanting invite contemplation: it is here where architecture tells the story of two distant cultures that harmoniously intercept and complete one another. 

Construction start: March 2022

Construction end: June 2022

Photography: Alex Filz


Silena, the soulful hotel
- First intervention - 2017 -

Hotel Silena: Magic in the moor
"Oh, it's scary to go over the moor ..."
(Annette von Droste-Hülshoff - 1842)

Moors have always been mystical places full of secrets and drifting moods. The specific characteristic of such a genius loci served as the central design inspiration for noa*’s (network of architecture) project, which entailed the redesign and extension of the former "Moarhof" hotel at the end of the Valser valley, which is surrounded by moorland at about 1,300m altitude.
The result of this mystical transformation is the 4-star-S Hotel "Silena". With its’ swamp-coloured, organically angular and integration into the landscape, it appears to be growing out of the unstable ground as a place of tranquillity, strength and soul, designed down to the smallest detail. The surrounding archaic nature as well as the southeast-asian touch of the interior and the extensive accompanying program, which was specially requested by the client, were the decisive factors for the final outcome. 

The oldest part of the original hotel occupied the south-west side of the spacious hotel area before the intervention of noa*. In the course of the redesign in 2017, it was demolished down to the supportive structures and suspended ceilings and then redesigned according to the naturalistic-asian concept. The structure of the south-east wing, which was added in 2011, has been preserved. An earth-coloured, aluminium panel facade represents the surrounding moor area and provides a visual connection of both the old and new structures. The surface of the buildings exterior resembles the plants of the swamp, which seem to grow up the hotel complex and envelop it in its entirety. On the ground floor, the new wellness area appears to be connected to the landscape with its’ organically curved façade. Here you can find a new sauna and beauty area, two relaxation rooms as well as the existing indoor pool. To the south, there is a new open-air lounge and indoor-outdoor pool. The expanded and redesigned hotel restaurant, including the kitchen and sweeping outdoor terrace can be found one floor up above the wellness area. Furthermore, a new tea library was built in the southeast tract.

The renovated 1st and 2nd floor houses newly designed and enlarged guest rooms with balconies, each having over 30 m². The third floor was completely rebuilt and has additional rooms and a suite with its own sauna and wellness oasis. In addition, another floor was built in a light wooden construction, which visually corresponds with its sweeping appearance of those of the ground floor. On the roof terrace there is a panoramic sauna, relaxation room, lounge and roof garden, richly planted with moss and grass. The roofscape of the new building merges seamlessly with the greenery of the surrounding mountain and moor landscape.

Noa* consistently incorporates the Hotels exterior appearance into its’ interior design concept. The moor, natural motifs and the southeast-asian region dominate the design for the 29 newly built rooms, reading rooms and suites, wellness zones, restaurant, lobby and lounge as well as for the library. Similar to the overall expression, wallpapers with an overlaying touch of dreamy blue give the guest rooms a soft, weightless ambience. Canopy beds with white duvet covers and green-blue overthrows, underline the romantic touch. Showers and bathtubs within the living spaces signal intimate familiarity. At the same time the wooden decorative panels surrounding the showers, take up the wallpaper motifs, such as bog or flowers of life, and  combine the spatial world into a harmonious overall work of art. Blue curtains and upholstery quote the wellbeing of the blue hour; an atmosphere between day and dream is created. In the extended restaurant, guests meet at mealtimes, clustered like islands around the pillars of the dining room. Blue velvet seats are deliberately interrupted by interspersed, floral chair covers. Powerful wine and cheese cabinets are clearly reminiscent of the culinary delights of the house. The ambience of the sauna and wellness areas on the ground and top floor is one of natural sensuality. The wall and ceiling elements show landscape impressions from the moor as well as alienated fern representations. The library takes on a rather asian mood, where the visitors sit cross-legged on tatami mats, which enhances the reading experience. The meditative space in the lobby and lounge is not far from the reception, with high seats in a programmatic blue. 

Project name: Silena
Location: Vals-Valles/Mühlbach-Rio di Pusteria (I)
Client: Family Mair, Hotel Silena
Architecture: noa* (network of architecture)
Interior Design: noa* (network of architecture)
Construction start: September 2017
Completion: December 2017
Typology: Hotel conversion and extension
Text: ufo – Dr. Ulrich Fohrmann (translated from german)
Photographs: Alex Filz

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    Silena: The Alps meet Asia Architecture that spans the history of multiple generations has always had a certain allure to it. Like that of the historic ‘Moarhof’, today known as Hotel Silena. Located at the far end of Valler Tal, the hotel has recently marked a new chapter in its history that bears the signature of noa*. In 2017 the family that owns Hotel Silena decided to make a striking architectural change based on a bold and unusual decision. The 2022 transformation is the...

    Project details
    • Year 2022
    • Work finished in 2022
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Hotel/Resorts / Tourist Facilities / Interior Design
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