LOISIUM WINE & SPA RESORT LANGENLOIS
Loisium Allee 2
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ARCHITECT / DESIGNER
Steven Holl Architects – New York
Wine may have long been an old-boy world full of châteaux owned by aristocrats and hand-picked vines, but Austria’s ascent to the world wine scene has helped change all that. New techniques and architecture are making wine lovers take note and journey to Langenlois, in the Kamptal Valley, on the border of the Wachau Valley along the river Danube (awarded World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO), 45 minutes from Vienna. And now there is an architectural spot worthy of their visual attention – LOISIUM Wine & Spa Resort Langenlois.
Designed by noted New York architect Steven Holl, this wine-world center is already attracting its own pilgrims, drawn not only to its spectacular look but also to its unique concept as a spa for vinophiles. From an original visitor’s center and cellar exposition, the idea evolved to this luxury hotel, based on a trinity motif consisting of the underground cellars, the ground-level center and a "floating" hotel.
Here, the ground floor is almost entirely transparent, consisting of pillars surrounded by glass, which creates a hovering, suspended effect for the building that sits above. The Loisium's visitor center is a textured metal cube. Another cube, this time in bright yellow, ushers guests to the underground labyrinth of the Nidetzky family’s extensive wine cellars.
Set amidst lush vineyards, Hotel Loisium’s panoramic views constantly remind guests that they are in wine country. Featuring Holl’s trademark interplay of space and light, the design hotel’s public and private spaces are dominated by a few design elements: abundant glass and latticework, as well as a repetition of similarly proportioned rectangular forms in windowpanes, doorframes, counters, even mirrors. Cork as material, form and texture is woven into the resort's space from the lighting fixtures in the restaurant dining room to the texture of the lobby staircase and concrete walls.
This emphasis on cork echoes, of course, the Loisium's raison d’être – to celebrate wine in a spa atmosphere. But it is more than that – the lobby rejoices in design itself in the "Kiesler Eck", a display of furnishings created for art maven Peggy Guggenheim in 1942 and available as reproductions by the modern Wittmann Carpentry Workshop. Coloured concrete in a unique hue (a combination of ochre and adobe red) sets off the greenery that surrounds the glassed-in lobby.
Past the lobby complex, guests’ eyes are directed over a stone pool, lined with rocks from the local Kamp River, over a swimming pool and to the vines themselves. The two pools interact as grounding spaces, bringing an aquatic touch to the airy architecture and reflecting the sky and surrounding landscape to bring the elements of water, earth and air together. This is a hint of the spa-emphasis that complements the offerings inside. TheLoisium is an Aveda Wine Spa, which means that the full array of Aveda spa treatments is available. But the hotel adds another twist, "vinotherapy", a locally influenced series of treatments involving grape and wine products.
Guestrooms follow the cork theme with cork-shaped lamps, and a map of the underground cellars is the basis of a motif that appears throughout the hotel, including on textiles – an innovative way of running the same design through several levels of décor and furnishings. Rooms are airy, with large windows directly overlooking the vineyards; furniture is largely by Steven Holl and done exclusively for the Loisium. Dark wood abounds to set off the open feeling, and the bathrooms are a series of light, mirrored spaces crisscrossed by latticework, all laid out in a functional, modern style.
The great effort the Nidetzky family poured into the Loisium has already paid off: the resort won the Austrian National Prize for Culture and Tourism 2006 in recognition both of the innovation displayed and the respect for existing structures. The vaults themselves date back 900 years, after all – the Loisium is but the tip of the iceberg aboveground.