Milan-based architect Matteo Thun has designed the first certified eco-friendly hotel. Located on a mountainside in the National Park of Stelvio in the Italian Alps, the KlimaHotel is a redesign of the Bella Vista Trafoi. According to the architect, the hotel conforms to three pillars of sustainability: "nature" (ecology), "life" (socio cultural aspects) and "transparency" (economy).

The design is made up of a series of 11 underground caverns built into the side of a mountain. As part of its ethos of sustainability, the hotel will use ground-source heat pumps to conserve energy. During construction, materials will be sourced from the local area to minimise the impact on the environment. Semi-submerged within a hillside, the design offers protection against the weather and sound proofing while providing a natural habitat for plants and animals.

Going underground

The units are no more than a slight rise in the ground with a large, south-facing window protruding from the hillside. Each unit is set into the earth and covered with vegetated roofing which will control the temperature throughout the year. Deep overhangs above each window will shade it from the sun in the summer and insulate the buildings in winter.

The window’s triple glazing will help with energy efficiency as well as keeping external noise out. The heat pumps will use a nearby geothermal spring to heat and cool the hotel. The KlimaHotel will be constructed from pre-certified components that will ensure a low environmental impact. The building components will be taken apart and recycled at the end of their life. The project started in late 2009 and is expected to be completed and open for business in 2011.

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