Hotel Centro Soggiorno San Servolo

Hotel Centro Soggiorno San Servolo, Venice

The spiritual richness and the setting of the lagoon environment are the "materials" of Alfonso Femia / AF*Design's interior design project for the hotel in San Servolo: a different code of hospitality that makes the identity and authenticity of the place the keystone of the architecture.

Opened in July, during the Architecture Biennale 2021, the hotel on the island of San Servolo overlooks the Venetian lagoon between Sant'Elena and the Lido.

While the limited budget did not allow for the overhaul and updating of the building's plant engineering aspects, working in a climate of limited resources pushed the design team to search for narrative solutions in which the leitmotif was the chromatic essence of the place, the cancellation of the boundary between exterior and interior with the green area of the park - one of the largest in Venice characterised by ancient trees - as the protagonist.

The renovated building is a collective space that welcomes the function of hospitality declined in the actions of study, work and meeting. Light blue and blue are the dominant tones that transform the walls of the stairwells and common areas of the Hotel Centro Soggiorno San Servolo into moments of reconciliation of the memories stratified in the building: walls of a monastery in the distant past before 1000, then of a Benedictine convent until the mid 1700s and of a military hospital until the end of the same century. Care for the soul and body was replaced by torment and suffering of the spirit, which inhabited the building, the seat of the asylum in Veneto, Dalmatia and Tyrol, for the next 180 years, until the end of the 1970s.

Today it is quiet again, punctuated by the colours of the island, an ideal place to linger in contemplation of the free horizon and the urban horizon, the slow time of the sea and the fast time of the consumption of everything, culture and study, tourism and commerce of the city of Venice.

The project, signed by Alfonso Femia/AF*DESIGN, involved minimal interventions, measured and respectful architectural gestures that, while favouring the peculiarities of the spaces, completely transformed the hotel: 18 rooms characterised by Staygreen's furnishings in structured cellulose, with Liuni high-performance vinyl flooring and customised walls with photographs depicting the Venetian lagoon printed on Spaghetti Wall wallpaper.

In the hotel's rooms there are occasions for pause and reflection rendered in the textures of the wall coverings and in the masterful intervention of Studio Tapiro, which has constructed a graphic layout evocative of the lagoon's underwater ecosystem.

A rebound of personal and collective imagery that does not end in the two-dimensionality of the walls, but continues through the internal signage, a delicate trace of paths without boundaries, guided by the zoomorphic geometry of fish creatures, small inhabitants of the sea that indicate the short journeys inside the hotel until realising their creative power in the space of the hall, a connection, departure and landing at the same time.