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Austrian spa hotel chucks out the chintz

Construction starts this month on a building which should banish the stuffy, over-upholstered and pastel-decorated image of the large international hotel. Pringle Brandon Botschi has designed this 300-bed hotel in the Austrian spa town of Loipersdorf for Intercontinental. With not a seascape or pressed flower in sight, the design has a modern, sleek appearance. Most revolutionary for a large hotel are the bedrooms, which have timber floors and detailing and wooden blinds. Glazed sliding doors open to terraces shaded by steel and timber pergolas. These take maximum advantage of the dramatic views over a valley.

The long low building, which is linked to the spa, hugs the hillside. Bedroom wings are set on either side of the central entrance which has a curved glazed facade, hung in a water feature that flows from interior to exterior. A timber bridge takes guests across the pool into the main reception space, which is flanked by two pairs of glass lifts.

The double-height reception includes a lounge and a bar, with a movement- sensitive light sculpture. On the mezzanine is a fish restaurant with a large aquarium wall overlooking the reception. There is also a glass- roofed second-floor restaurant with a terrace which has views over the valley. Materials used include limestone, larch, brushed stainless steel and glass.

The practice is working with local architect Peter Rossbacher and the building should be completed in 2001. This is one of the first major projects for the practice which was created a year ago through the merger of Pringle Brandon and Pierre Botschi Architects. Pringle Brandon, set up in 1986, specialised largely in interior projects. Pierre Botschi, who has worked for practices including Erno Goldfinger and Richard Rogers, set up his own practice in 1992. He had worked collaboratively on several competition schemes with Pringle Brandon prior to the merger. The Austrian project should set a precedent for both the practice and European hotels.

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