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  Grande Soffice  and  Cicladi . The sofa by Francesco Binfaré in angular composition inside the living room of the chalet serge together with the tables and the Jacopo Foggini lamp.

October 2023

Giovanni Carli

Chalet Serge, Dolomiti Lodge Alverà

Chalet Serge expands the Dolomiti Lodge Alverà in Cortina d'Ampezzo

The genesis of Chalet Serge shows how an unplanned project can develop from contingent conditions. In this mountain tale, chance, events, and discoveries prove to be important opportunities to exploit the extemporaneous nature of the here and now, if untamed intuition and passion for the profession are central. These qualities are certainly not lacking in the Alverà Brothers - the owners of the Dolomiti Lodge Alverà in Cortina d'Ampezzo and members of one of the leading families in the history of the area's catering and hospitality. Such qualities did not abate even during the Covid 19 pandemic.

In May 2020, Claudio Alverà left his house, as usual, to collect wood. Suddenly, while walking through the woods, he came across an expanse of stone pine trees felled by the previous winter's heavy snowfall. The trees were harvested through November 2020 with the help of all brothers, loading two trucks. Černyševskij would now ask: “What should we do?” This led to the idea of using the material to expand the Lodge, which already had ten rooms, with a new hospitality space: a private chalet where furnishings, architecture and art could be combined. In March 2021, wood cutting began and in just nine months the chalet was finished and ready to open its doors for the 2021-2022 winter season.

The project is an island of relaxation for those who want to exercise their right to take a reconciliatory break. “Cortina is changing,” Claudio Alverà explains. “If we stand on a balcony and look out over the valley, there are dozens of cranes. The awarding of the 2026 Winter Olympics has stimulated new energy. With Chalet Serge, we are working on the concept of the hotel-home, or home-hotel, which is something that has not been tried out here yet.” Unlike traditional mountain ‘grand resorts’, the Chalet welcomes guests in an ambience of palpable homeliness. At the same time, it does not forego the services of contemporary hospitality. In this project, furniture plays a key role.

Kitchen, dining and living areas overlook a large open space. The wooden kitchen, designed as a stage for cook shows - you can invite a personal chef or rely on the skilful hands of the Lodge's chefs - is painted in blue, the traditional colour of Ladin and Tyrolean stuben that became popular in the 1920s following Spanish influence as it conveyed a perception of cleanliness and freshness. In the centre of the dining room, a large square table can seat up to fourteen diners who can sit on Edra's dark grey Jenette, designed by brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, with its iconic flexible fan-shaped backrest made of PVC stems. On the wall is a wooden crocodile, a sculpture by Candeago, the blacksmith-creator from the Ampezzo basin. As previously mentioned, it is an “exotic find.” It is a naturally shaped piece of wood returned to the earth from the sea, collected by Claudio Alverà on the beach in Saint Tropez, to which iron legs and brass eyes and teeth have been added. In the living room, the grey Grande Soffice sofa designed by Francesco Binfaré concludes the perspective channel, making the room even more ‘homely’ and cosy. From here, the wrought-iron staircase leads to a mezzanine in the attic used as a mini-cinema. Excellent viewing is guaranteed by being able to relax amidst the purple ‘coils’ of the Boa sofa designed by the Campana brothers, which is a nest of weaves and velvety softness. “Our collaboration and affection for Edra began when we chose the Pack for the foyer of the Lodge's restaurant, which has now become an icon for our customers. Edra's products are authentic sculptures of “craftsmanship,” whose bodies are as solid as our Dolomites. They surprise, amuse and characterise the space.” 

Since the aim of the project is the pursuit of well-being, a private spa is a must. Equipped with a whirlpool bath, Scottish shower, Turkish bath and oak sauna, the spa area is characterised by the choice of “organic” woodwork in which the patterns of the moulds formed on the stone-pine trunks that fell to the ground before they were harvested have been deliberately kept. This operation reminds us of philosopher Emanuele Coccia's metaphysics of mixing - we are not the only inhabitants of this planet - and Thomas Doxiadis's installation Entangled Kingdoms at the Biennale Architettura 2021 in which the Greek architect studied and collected the moulds from the wooden partitions of the Venetian Arsenal under the propagandistic slogan Without Me You Don't Exist. Fungi and moulds are, in fact, those indispensable organisms that enable pedogenesis, i.e. the process of soil formation in the Earth's crust.

The passage to the sleeping area is marked by a hallway at the centre of which is a chest of drawers made from a two-hundred-and-thirty-year-old stone pine trunk, the representative of one of the trees felled to build the new Cortina Skyline cableway connecting the Tofane and Cinque Torri lifts. On the wall is another sculpture by Candeago, the monumental trunk of a tree struck by lightning found by the Alverà brothers near Ospitale - the family's former restaurant, the last Cortina outpost between the Ampezzo valley and the Pusteria - which the artist covered in deep blue. You can recognise how the poetics of the relic (reliquia)  has been applied to the Chalet project in its purest etymological meaning: in it, “leaving (-linquere) behind (re-)” becomes the manifestation of transformation into something else. The rooms are embellished with ad-hoc carved wainscoting and works of art by artists such as Mario Arlati and Igor Mitoraj. This initiative was made possible thanks to the collaboration with some of Cortina's most prestigious galleries.
Chalet Serge delle Dolomiti Lodge Alverà develops a hospitality project in which tradition and innovation come together: architecture and furnishings are not afraid to dare to cross the boundaries of convention, fuelling that necessary process of transformation in the area, in anticipation of the next Olympic event. All this is framed by the unrivalled ‘pearl of the Dolomites.’

Giovanni Carli

Architect and PhD in Architecture. Research fellow in Architectural and Urban Composition at the Iuav University of Venice where he carries out research within the Ir.Ide Infrastructure - Pard Publishing Center. Adjunct Professor in Architectural Theories at the Iuav University of Venice and in Con-temporary Design at the University of Genoa. Member of the editorial board of “Vesper. Journal of Architecture, Arts and Theory | Journal of Architecture, Arts & Theory ”(Quodlibet). Curator since 2017 of the Architecture and Design sections of TRA - Casa Robegan, Civic Museums of Treviso

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