In order to breathe new life into the walls that were left untouched, to bridge a century-long gap and revive the property without losing its original identity, we had to stick to its roots and project, at the same time, towards a contemporary approach to an ancient concept. With a series of surgical interventions, we attempted to showcase the monumental heritage of the building stock, in order to connect deeply to those roots and purity of the locus.
Collaborating closely with archaeological authorities, and accessing archive material in order to trace the original intentions and reconstruct the absent morphological elements, we took on the thread of history trying our best to pave the way for the building’s future, without being limited from the load of its past.
The client’s ambition was to reinterpret the concept of a sanctuary in the mountains with contemporary terms. The hotel would have to be a place for isolation, as well as community-making and participation in the primary activities of everyday living. It would also have to be a year-round destination, for brief or longer duration stays, thanks to its close proximity to Athens and the surrounding villages, but also be a destination in itself, for travellers who seek a pure wellness experience in their adventures. It is worth mentioning that one of the most extensive hiking trail networks in Greece is found in the area, so Manna is also a place for those who pursue a deep connection with the great outdoors.
The main building of Manna spreads on a horizontal axis, split in two wings parallel to it from a main circulation corridor. The northern wing is divided into room units almost on all floors, and the front accommodated larger common areas in the “piano nobile”, the first and main access floor. The ground floor was occupied by service functions and will remain as such in the new proposal, hosting the kitchen and dining rooms, as well as all the necessary back of house supporting areas.
Since the original design intention, that predicted a symmetrical configuration in the building plan and facade, was never completed, we were given the opportunity to renegotiate the access points of the hotel, adding a main entrance to the side facade, and extend its functionality to the footprint of an auxiliary structure that was found derelict, introducing a second, transverse axis to the composition. In order to host all 32 rooms that were part of the brief, and the elements of the hotel operation without compromising the integrity of the main building, we had to connect it to this additional structure. It would also be necessary to find appropriate space for an extra floor of rooms in the attic level, which raised a rather interesting discussion about the morphology of the building and its origins: contrary to the greek equivalents, that would be crowned with a relatively low roof, we proceeded to a geometrical analysis to make a case for a bigger slope in the missing roof, which was eventually agreed upon and justified by the original project blueprints, making a nod to the central-european roots of the building concept.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted in the welcome area, a cosy space where local treats & a warm drink by the robust fireplace give a first taste of a down-to-earth hospitality experience. Moving to the Lounge area, where dominant is the Bar that makes a clear reference to the healing past of the property thanks to its apothecary style with the complex joinery, the sense of community is rather clear, as activities populate the space in an organic way. In the lower level an open Kitchen is conceived to invite guests to participate in the elaboration of meals that will be served in the restaurant, and which may also spill over in the outdoors areas when the weather allows it. On its lower level, the annex features all the wellness areas, from the gym all the way to different spa amenities, that end up becoming a cave into the terrain, exploring further the pure spatial qualities of being grounded.