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silence behind the walls

The “Monastero” is an old monastery building from the 17th century and is located in the small Italian town, Arco, approximately 5 kilometres from Lake Garda in the region of Trentino. The architects challenge was to breathe new life into the empty historical framework of the old monastery and to envelope the whole building complex in a new and fresh model of hospitality. The historic factor was handled with great care in order to respect the existing building structure of the ancient monastery and extends it with a newly constructed wellness area.

The new wellness area spreads over a surface of 450m2 and is formed by simple rectangular volumes, shifted alternately on a central axis that acts as a corridor with large glass fronts that open to the view of the garden. Outdoor courtyards can be found between the volumes, some more hidden, others more exposed. The linear rhythm of the facade pillars defines the privacy of the interior spaces; the pillars are thinner and spaced further apart with large windows in the more extroverted and public spaces, such as relaxing areas, and gradually increase in density until reaching the saunas, where the space becomes more intimate and protected.

The idea of the new wellness construction can be seen as a restrained reaction to the monastery. With respect for the existing historic building, its value of antiquity and its story, the architects felt compelled to use reduced forms, rather than a complex structure. Hence, the interiors of the monastery were designed to the bare minimum, hardly touching the old walls, while still creating a cosy atmosphere, full of life. Special thought and care have gone into the planning as not to alter the structure in any way, due to the fact that the building is under protection and cannot be demolished in any way.

On the ground floor of the monastery one can find the reception, a lounge-characterised restaurant, a market-styled buffet and shop with local products and a bar area with direct access to the garden. The 40 rooms are divided between three floors, with the rooms on the first floor having a particular character, due to the fact that they are the old nun’s cells, who once lived in the monastery.


  • Typology: Hotel, wellness
  • Location: Arco, Lake Garda (Italy)
  • Phase: Work in progress
  • Intervention: Renovation and new construction