Lago Maggiore Retreat

A large-scale resort embraces the vernacular and site ecologies to ground itself in rich alpine heritage.

Traditional alpine villages in Ticino epitomize harmony with nature. Their intricate lanes and structures navigate the precipitous terrain with sincerity and logic. When designing a new resort above Lago Maggiore, we studied, distilled, and evolved this language and spirit to create a sympathetic and timeless response.

Building controls are strictly regulated, requiring a genuine understating of scale, detail, and materiality to gain council approval. The brief also required an economically and ecologically sustainable outcome, while creating a world-class experience for guests. This led to three distinctive sites: a mountain “village,” a botanical edible garden for the resort, and a forested landscape for the residential development.

While the original brief was for accommodation, we could see the benefits of an expanded program—a small “town center,” including a square, café, and artisan food stores. This small commercial center would provide places to shop and congregate, growing the destination’s profile and tourism economy.

Structures on each site are composed with materials from their surroundings—mountain granite in the botanical garden, traditional stucco in the village, and reclaimed wood in the forest, all crafted into a harmonious composition. While all part of one family, each site has subtle differences in color, tone, and materiality.

Abstracted interiors feature large and dramatic openings to frame the landscape, engaging the senses with the look, feel, smells, tastes, and sounds of the alpine environment.

The result is an artful choreography of tightly clustered buildings and ancient materials in a sensitive reinterpretation of the traditional Ticinese hilltown.

Ascona, Switzerland
130,000 SF
Masterplanning, Architecture
Project Team
Chad Oppenheim, Beat Huesler, Tom McKeogh, Alex Lozano, Rasem Kamal, Esther Alcalde, Giulliana Giorgi, Jourdan McKee, Hyejin Yang
Image Credit
MIR, Oppenheim Architecture

Lago Maggiore Retreat