food / travel

In Italy's Dolomites, Is There Space For Star Architect's Super Luxury Ski Lodge?

After designing London's Millennium Bridge and the Beijing airport’s international terminal renowned architect Norman Foster is now looking to leave his mark on the Dolomite Mountains, with a ski lodge billed as seven-star luxury. But some local

Children playing in the Italian Dolomite Mountains
Children playing in the Italian Dolomite Mountains
Maurizio Ternavasio

British architect Norman Foster's many accomplishments include the Bilbao metro, London's Millennium Bridge and the Beijing airport's international terminal. He's now ready to add one more to the list: a super-luxury, seven-star hotel slated for construction in Selva di Val Gardena, a charming village in the Italian Dolomite Mountains.

But despite Foster's world class credentials, his high-tech ski lodge isn't receiving universal welcome in the quiet Italian mountain town. The municipality and the provincial administration have not yet given their final approvals, and there has been an awkward uncertainty about who exactly has jurisdiction about what.

The star architect's project promises, if nothing else, to be conspicuous. The hotel will have a saltwater swimming pool overlooking Mount Cimapinoi, and a 360-square-meter suite that will include a conference room, a gourmet restaurant and a ball room. According to its critics – who call the project a 50,000-cubic meter "designer monster" – the hotel will also have a serious impact on the local environment.

Claudio Riffeser, president of the local cable railway company Funivie Saslong Spa, supports the project, which is set to replace an older hotel called Sochers. "This building will boost the local economy and tourism," he says.

Construction is expected to begin in 2012 and finish by the following year. The project's final price tag is expected to be somewhere in the 50 million euro range. The design alone cost 2.5 million euros. Norman Foster, interestingly enough, has never actually been to Selva. But he has employed a team of 10 people who go back and forth between the village and his main offices in London.

The state of the art hotel will receive a Class A energy ranking and will consume less than 30 kWhm2 per year. The smallest rooms will be between 60 and 70 square meters. The transparent corridors and a futuristic 80-meter-long rooftop pathway will overlook the stunning Dolomites. The facility will also offer round-the-clock service. Guests will be able to have their clothes ironed – at any time of the day – in just 20 minutes. The hotel will also have an on-staff hairstylist and limousine driver. In exchange for all that luxury, guests will have to shell out between 700 and 5,500 euros per night.

For now, however, the project is still on hold. So far the municipality has yet to sell the developers a 1,500-square-meter plot of land they'll need to complete the project, which is also lacking authorization from the provincial government. Considering the controversy Mr. Foster's top of the line ski lodge has stirred up, nothing's a given. As "green" as the hotel promises to be, there's still no guarantee local authorities will issue a final green light.

Read the original article in Italian

CORRECTION: due to an error in the original text, an earlier version of this article mistakenly credited Foster with designing Dubai's Burj al Arab Hotel, better known as "the sailboat".

Photo - Lo.Tangelini

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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