Vienna-based architecture studio Smartvoll has designed an offshore hotel and restaurant situated in a lake outside the Austrian city of Graz. Called “Land Ahoy”, the project was selected as a finalist in an international competition.
The design sits at the heart of the Lake Thalersee recreational area, a place that has provided pleasant amenities for its locals since the 1920s. In Austria, lakes such as this, hold great significance and are central for leisurely and recreational activities. “Land Ahoy” is Smartvoll’s proposal for a replacement of a pre-existing, dilapidated building, which is located on the northern shore of the lake.
Instead of re-populating the most prominent part of the shore with a new structure, the architects decided to convert the shoreline back to its natural state and give it back to the public. This called for the elimination of the unnatural flood control barrier that prohibits free access to the lake.
“The unregulated and constant privatization of lake shores in Austria has further led to an alarming decrease in public lake access over the last decades — diminishing the chance for a large part of society to enjoy a primarily public asset,” stated the architects.
The design’s unique placement and architectural staging functions to create an unforgettable experience by enhancing the attractiveness and recreational value of the lake. Additionally, the lake functions as a water reservoir in case of flooding.
Therefore, the architects replaced the old artificial structural barrier with a sensitively embedded hill, which will function as a natural dam. The hill also serves as the entrance to the project, connecting with the offshore structure via an underwater tunnel.
“Entering the rotunda in the lake via this underwater tunnel will be an incomparable experience. Once you reach the end of the underwater pathway, you will emerge out of the lake – fully surrounded by water, creating an immersive and unforgettable experience impression,” says Philip Buxbaum of Smartvoll
On the offshore site, a generous footbridge merges into a circular ramp. This forms an intimate courtyard that is framed by the elevated building. The layout offers visitors many chances to swim, rent a boat, or ice skate in the winter. At the end of the ramp lies the restaurant, which provides a unique panoramic view of the lake and its revitalized shore.
All images by Mathias Bank
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