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Timber eco retreat
Two story timber eco-retreat
Single story timber eco-retreat

Nestled into a protected preserve, 48° Nord Landscape Hotel is a luxury eco-retreat built with minimal site impact and bio-based materials. Designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter in collaboration with ASP Architecture, construction relied on locally-sourced timber and incorporates copious energy-efficient and water-saving features, earning the hotel a PassivHaus certification.

Perched in the Alsatian village of Breitenbach, France 48° Nord Landscape Hotel was inspired by traditional Scandinavian hyttes, a form of hillside vacation chalets common in Scandinavian culture. The location is a protected Natura 2000 site aimed at providing a retreat for humans, and more importantly, protection for the Great Murin, a little bat. With this in mind, a sustainable approach to the design was a requirement. To accommodate this goal the fourteen timber huts are lightly placed into the landscape using stilts for minimal site impact.

Side view of timber reception building green roof
Restaurant with blackened timber lined walls

Wood used in the construction of the eco-retreat is certified and locally sourced within the Alsace region. In addition to being collected locally, craftsmen less than 30km away shaped the wood, creating jobs in Saverne and keeping transport emissions low.

Wood wool is used for insulation, providing a bio-based material that is effective and environmentally-friendly. With its high thermal efficiency, heating and cooling requirements are minimised. A double-flow ventilation system recovers heat for exceptional performance. Additionally, each unit incorporates large windows for substantial natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The electricity that is consumed is produced using solar power in the form of photovoltaic panels.

Water conservation is also important within the protected site, so water is collected naturally and is filtered through a system of sand and reeds. A boiling wood stove is used to heat the water.

With this commitment to protecting the natural habitat, landscape architect and client on the project Emil Leroy Jönsson lets a flora and fauna of weeds, along with planted hedges and fruit trees, run free. It was also important to Jönsson to provide locally-sourced, organic food for visitors, much of it grown in gardens on site and foraged from the surrounding hillsides.

With Norwegian roots, Ramstad placed an emphasis on a connection with nature, which is an essential element of Scandinavian culture. It’s appropriate the hotel sits within a reserve, which further enforces this goal. Breitenbach Landscape Hotel is a retreat that captures dynamic architectural design, a spirit of well-being, and a connection with local culinary excellence.

Related project: The Wildlife Retreat by Cox Architecture is another luxury eco-retreat. Read about it here

Timber lined hotel room
Timber veranda with timber screen
Timber hot tub on hotel room deck

Sustainability specs:
– Certified locally sourced timber – felled, sawn and shaped within a 30km radius from the hotel
– Green roof on the reception building
– Small footprint built on stilts to lessen impact on the landscape
– Insulated using wood wool
– Reception building is built to PassiveHaus standards
– Chestnut timber tiles clad the exterior of the reception building
– Photovoltaic panels provide electricity for the reception building
– Organic itchen garden onsite provides fresh produce for the restaurant
– Rainwater is captured and filtered using a natural system of sand and reeds
– A boiling wood stove is used to heat water

Stone bar in blackened timber lined restaurant
Timber baluster stair detail
Two story timber hotel cabin
Timber ceiling timber wall eco retreat hotel room
View of valley with sheep and mountains beyond
From the architect:

The architectural project must find a common denominator between the Alsatian and Scandinavian cultures. It must blend into the landscape without disappearing and show that nature, ecology and modernity are compatible.

I wanted to give guests a new idea of luxury. It doesn’t lie in the size of the rooms or the amenities technologies of a spa. For me, it is made of small pleasures. Admire the view from the comfort of a giant bay window, for example.

Images courtesy of Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter. Photography by Florent Michel

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