Refurbishment and addition of another storey to the Old Hospice
Solid wood construction in a stone building at 2000 m above sea level – prefabricated and then put into place in six days.
address of building
Fondazione Pro San Gottardo, Airolo/CH
Miller & Maranta, Basel, CH, www.millermaranta.ch
Conzett Bronzini Gartmann AG, Chur, www.cbg-ing.ch
In 2005, a study contract was awarded for the conversion of the hospice at the St. Gotthard Pass into a hotel. The winning design formed the basis for the most recent in a long line of structural changes to this complex: the rectory, built in 1623 onto a sixteenth-century chapel, was destroyed in an avalanche and was then rebuilt in the eighteenth century as a Capuchin hospice and enlarged several times. After a fire in 1905, the building’s interior structure was modernised and another storey added onto the chapel.A steeply sloping prismatic roof has been added to unite chapel and hospice into a solitary volume atop the polygonal ground plan. The roof begins directly over the chapel, whose volume is now legible again after the removal of the added storey. The height of the south-facing, gabled facade of the hospice, which can be seen from afar, was increased and the surface given a clear vertical articulation. An additional storey was added to the existing ones with their varying window types. The poor quality of the buildingwork carried out after 1905 made it necessary to gut the interiorand start fresh. Where necessitated by the new roof line, reinforced concrete elements were added atop the building’s quarry-stone outer walls, finished with an anchoring ring of steel-reinforced concrete that takes up the forces from the new attic storey. The two solid-masonry lower storeys house the public hotel functions, above which are four floors with hotel rooms. These are constructed of timber using a method deployed in the Canton of Uri since the fifteenth century: load-bearing timber studs are infilled with horizontal planks, while the floors are made of solid wood boards. The untreated wood is left bare to line the interiors of the guest rooms in the mountain-top hotel. But there were additional reasons for the choice of material: the summer period for construction at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres is brief. The wooden elements could be prefabricated at the plant and put in place at the gutted building in only six days.