The world’s most impressive—and only?—upside-down spa is in Italy’s South Tyrol region, amid the peaks of the Dolomites. The studio behind this spa with breathtaking views is a young team with a distinct design identity that’s already winning awards: NOA (Network of Architecture). This project, which overlooks the town of Valdaora in northern Italy, is part of Hotel Hubertus, a property in the Belvita Leading Wellnesshotels Südtirol Group. The name of the project, completed last June, is Hub of Huts, but an equally appropriate description would be, “a village turned upside down.”
Luke Rungger, the lead architect and founder of NOA, describes the concept, “The essence of this project is about overturning horizons, with the result being a feeling of amazement for the observer. Visitors to the spa experience a variety of constantly changing views in the wellness areas, where, whether they are lying in the sauna, sitting in the relaxation area, or floating in the pool, their perspectives are constantly changing.” The architects’ goal with the project was to reimagine the experience of observing of the landscape and the hotel, whose pool captures and reflects—once again, the theme of upside-down perspectives emerges—the silhouettes of buildings in the area’s villages and the nearby mountain peaks.
Vertiginous and suspended in an alpine void, this spa with sweeping mountain views is the studio’s second project for Hotel Hubertus. In 2016, NOA built an equally spectacular infinity pool overlooking the peaks. The new spa’s facade is positioned so it is reflected in that earlier pool, and is suspended 50 feet above ground level, supported by two pillars clad in larch logs. A walkway, also suspended in mid-air, connects it to a newly constructed glassed-in relaxation area that can accommodate up to 27 people. On the platform, individual gabled-roofed structures house a wellness circuit on two floors. A surprise element is the lower level of the platform, where the horizon undergoes a 180-degree rotation and the huts appear to be anchored upside down. The entire platform extends outwards 66 feet, floating in the air.