Lanserhof LansSahar Khan • Photography by Alexander Haiden and Mario Webhofer • September 15, 2017
For 33 years, the village of Lans, located on the outskirts of Innsbruck in western Austria, has attracted European royalty, Russian oligarchs, and models of every status to Lanserhof, a medical spa known for its detox therapies. Guests subsist on a stringent diet, often drinking tea for dinner, and partake in a schedule of bespoke daily treatments based on Ernst Mayr’s studies that claim health stems from a well-functioning digestive tract.
One of those guests was German architect Christoph Ingenhoven. In 2011, the owners of Lanserhof, who also operate a day spa in Hamburg, asked Ingenhoven to design a new Lanserhof in Tegernsee, Germany. A fitting request since Ingenhoven specializes in healthy buildings, trademarked as “supergreen.” He incorporated this ideology into Tegernsee’s sleek design through natural materials and the integration of the surrounding landscape. By contrast, the building in Lans, which lacked a cohesive look despite undergoing several renovations over the years, seemed old and dowdy. Encouraged by the success in Tegernsee, the owners turned to Ingenhoven once again, this time to refurbish Lanserhof Lans.
His instructions were clear: The new Lans had to be on equal footing with the building in Tegernsee so guests would be happy to stay at either location. The $26 million renovation was of the entire compound, save for the basement floor medical—unit (a pristine blue and white space reminiscent of a James Bond villain’s lair)—which had been refurbished in 2005 by Ingenhoven’s ex-wife. “That was heritage,” he explains.
Over the course of 2016, Ingenhoven and his team demolished a small structure that abutted the foothills of the Tyrolean Alps and replaced it with one that houses 16 spa suites, a bathhouse, and an indoor-outdoor saltwater pool. To make the new modernist construct fit into “the village of existing buildings,” Ingenhoven developed an idea of a window-filled elliptical edifice, allowing him to maneuver the narrow perimeters between buildings and artfully manipulate angles to best maximize views. The window-fronted sauna in the new bathhouse, for example, faces rugged peaks that merge into a valley dotted with red-roof barns and graceful homes, a priceless vista that was previously blocked. Even the subterranean gym, salon, and treatment rooms—all studies in minimalism with white walls and white porcelain slabs—feature Alps-directed windows hewn out of the earth “to make it feel as if you aren’t underground,” he says. “We wanted every treatment room to have a view.” For a more indulgent experience, the top-floor spa suites share a private, interconnected rooftop and showcase a little more pizzazz, including copper-tiled bathrooms.
In the main house, the dining room was extended by 40 percent as part of an effort to make public spaces more expansive. Since guests can spend up to two weeks at Lanserhof and sit at pre-assigned seats in the restaurant, Ingenhoven thought it was important to give them ample breadth from one another. “The generosity of the space is a luxury,” he says. Other thoughtful details include a self-serve tea bar that dispenses different options from sprouts jutting out of a wall and guestroom balconies equipped with wooden mesh shutters that provide respite from the bracing alpine wind and those wanting to spot a VIP guest.
Ingenhoven calls the aesthetic new alpine architecture—a juxtaposition of a muted palette of white, taupe, and gray against untreated red cedar. “Everything is meant to calm you down,” he says.
Ingenhoven’s biggest challenge, however, was the site’s two ancient towering pine trees measuring 80 feet tall and almost 40 feet wide. Determined to save them, he designed the new building around the trunks, which loom mere feet from the bathhouse’s relaxation lounge, where natural wood floors and large wood-paneled glass doors open onto an alpine meadow. “Preserving the trees was the aspect of the project I liked most,” Ingenhoven says, proving that at Lanserhof, the landscape is an integral part of the cure.