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With a string of award-winning hotel, spa and hospitality concepts under their design belts, NOA Architectural and design studio is fast becoming tourism's go-to resource for those seeking out-of-the-box, non-cookie creations that fuse experimental aesthetics to a deep-rooted bond with heritage and ecological regard for nature.
Founded in 2010 by Lukas Rungger and Stefan Rier and based in Bolzano (Italy) and Berlin (Germany), NOA is an interdisciplinary network, a think tank laboratory of architects, designers and creative strategists.
"We conceived NOA as an open laboratory where experimentation and curiosity are driving forces. "Limits" are our constant companion, which we try to move, break and erase." (Lukas Rungger)
The architectural duo, surprisingly, do hail from such a minimalistic professional background: they met while working with Matteo Thun in Milan, the Italian architect known for embracing the concept of 'Zero Design'. Simplicity, lightness and durability are the main tenets of this aesthetic. They spend a formative decade with pitstops in NYC, London, Berlin, Ferrara and Graz.
"11 years ago we established ourselves in Bolzano founding NOA, deliberately conceived as a "network" as this truly reflects the spirit of our work, the way we think and live." (Lukas Rungger)
Concepts by Rungger and Rier bear a distinctive hallmark of making the humble into something striking - particularly in their adaptive use of simple materials: raw timber, metals, polished cement, glass and stone. Elements of lightness and durability showcase in their work; they create statement buildings with personality, attitude and a sense of connection to the surroundings, a design provenance that tells a story.
One of the most recent and much talked about hotel concepts is the award-winning Monastero Arx Vivendi, set between Italy's Arco mountain and a few kilometres from Lake Garda. A 17th-century former monastery, this luxury design hotel and spa is an aesthetic marriage of the old and the new. Modernistic, simple, pared-back interiors sit perfectly against a canvas of old, once crumbling vaulted ceilings. In the walled gardens, the spa landscape is a sanctuary of calm.
With Gloriette Guesthouse this resulted in an Art Deco-inspired design characterized by an arched façade with rounded windows and an upside-down arch for a cantilevered pool. Curves abound inside as well, in the cosy furniture and hearths that make up a warm and welcoming interior.
Architectural hospitality is creating the future hotel legends, and noa* are at the table of those changing tourism for the better.
Another favourite challenge was the restoration, architectural and interior design project for Altstadthotel Weißes Kreuz Innsbruck, a building dating back to 1645. Affectionately termed by its motif of ‘chic-shock-Baroque’, Altstadthotel Weißes Kreuz is a timely marriage of its opulent Baroque past with a high-concept design that pays homage to the rhythm of change that has taken place over centuries. A unique challenge for NOA, the existing building’s front façade shows respect for the local vernacular, while a new loft level adds a sixth floor and a whole new dimension of choreographed cool. Street-side, a sloping roof nods to preservation while the rear breaks up into six glass cubes, a modernist space of sheer delight – especially from the inside where you can chill with the city skyline and a crafted cocktail at Blaue Brigitte, the blue bar.
One thing is clear. Each NOA project is imbued with personality and the touch of singular expertise. The studio has pioneered the design relationship with heritage, style and a modern accent to their one-of-a-kind creations.