Photography by Jeremy Mason McGraw/Elite International Photography •
November 29, 2018
7132 in Val, Switzerland is an otherworldly destination for architecture buffs and wellness enthusiasts alike. Known for its ancient thermal baths, the world-class spa and hotel (previously known as the Therme Vals before reopening in July of last year under new owner, property developer Remo Stoffel) is the handiwork of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, whose monolithic masterpiece melds into the alpine landscape for a soulful and immersive experience.
Natural materials mix effortlessly with soothing neutral tones in the 22-room hotel, which includes top-floor presidential and penthouse suites designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Comprising 60,000 gray Vals quartzite slabs, Zumthor’s project was classified as a listed building shortly after its completion and earned the architect his first Pritzker Prize in 2009.
In a nearby 1960s-era lodge on the same complex, the recently unveiled House of Architects hotel takes the concept of Swiss bliss and high design to a new level. Guests have the opportunity to stay in 73 rooms crafted by four heavy hitters: Japan-based Tadao Ando, Kuma, Thom Mayne and his New York Morphosis studio (who also designed a new entrance to the adjacent hotel), as well as Zumthor.
Ando’s 18 minimalist chambers pay homage to traditional Japanese teahouses, while Kuma’s 23 cocoon-like spaces, clad in overlapping panels of Swiss oak, reference Japanese carpentry techniques. “If the baths recreate the feeling of a long journey in the mountains,” says Kuma, “the guestrooms aim to recreate the relief of finding a warm shelter for the night.” Mayne devised bold spaces based on two contrasting material palettes: 12 rooms using indigenous wood and 10 using Vals quartzite. Both types include sculptural, all-glass showers as ethereal centerpieces. Using the Renaissance plasterwork technique of stucco lustro, Zumthor created a moody, hand-hewn effect on the walls for his 10 rooms, while Habotai silk curtains and a capiz chandelier add a modern edge.