Architects Stefan Marx and Elke Ladurner have brought this 800-year-old group of buildings into the present. With great care, attention and respect. The Mansion zum Löwen is today a prime example of successful architecture in South Tyrol: old and new, the traditional and the modern, united in one harmonious whole. Elke Ladurner and Stefan Marx have restored the Mansion zum Löwen to its former glory: it is again the centre of village life in Burgeis/Burgusio.
leave behind – leave out – allow Architects Marx/Ladurner in conversation:
What makes the Mansion zum Löwen so special?
Elke Ladurner: The historical rooms are of a quality that you would normally only find in castles. That is a result of its relationship to the Marienberg cloister. Architecture in South Tyrol is always a case of leaving behind, leaving out and allowing certain things. That means you build on the existing structure without destroying it, but also without hiding it. The challenge with the Mansion zum Löwen was preserving the historical structure whilst also meeting the demands of a modern hotel.
Can you help us imagine what this challenge looked like more specifically?
Stefan Marx: The Mansion zum Löwen was in fairly bad shape when we began the project. The roof was a mess, the building wasn’t safe and parts of it were actually in danger of collapsing. The greatest challenge was not robbing the historical structure of the particular effect it could provide. Newly added architectural elements were chosen such that they would accentuate and highlight existing elements without being too conspicuous about it. Room was found for carefully measured amounts of concrete and rough, earth-coloured plaster. The director of the Antiquities and Monuments Office put it very aptly: ... "the Mansion zum Löwen went from being a problem child to become a model pupil".
Do you have a favourite room in the Mansion zum Löwen?
Elke Ladurner: Not in that sense, no. Actually, the most interesting thing about it is its variety. Each room stems from a different era. A particularly special feature is the suite with the bath in the old smokehouse. This suite also contains the oldest room in the building, from the 13th century, very simple but with incredible appeal.
Why should people interested in architecture spend their holidays at the Mansion zum Löwen ?
Stefan Marx: The very location itself in the historic Roman village with its organic narrow streets is something special. The architecture does not overwhelm its surroundings; instead, it dovetails naturally into the organic structure of the town. The modern elements aren't hidden away, they remain present, but in a subtle way. Old and new work in harmony alongside one another. There's room for both.