The project of Vels Landscape Hotel for creative people, situated in the north of the Perm Territory on the Vishera River, amidst forests and mountains, is part of a tourist route proposed by the architects.
Vels Landscape Hotel, proposed by the Ad Hoc architects, is located (at least, by Moscow standards) really, really far away – in the north corner of the Perm Territory, slightly to the west of the Ural Mountains. The first urge is to say that first of all you cannot drive that far because there are no automobile roads there but, yes, there are: the place is situated next to a small township of Vels with a population of about 200 people, a quay, and a school. The nearest township, which is slightly larger, 400 people, is a 45 minutes’ drive away. Perm is a six hours’ drive away. There are deep forests all around, and the local roads lead chiefly to “urochishcha”, which can be roughly translated as “natural landmarks”, which sometimes bearing pretty enticing names, such as “Priiskovoe” (“Gold Mine”). Currently, this totally wild place is one of the extreme tourism area for rafting as a kind of corporate team building. The proposal by Ad Hoc develops this theme because the architects designed not just a hotel amidst the forest land but also a tourist route, the most southern and starting point of which is the city of Perm, and the farthest point of which – “Vishersky Reserve” – is situated about 70 kilometers north of the hotel. The route is called “Salted Ear”, the hotel being the most fundamental structure of everything that is offered along the way.
Vels is the name of the river that flows here into the Vishera: both rivers make a bend, forming loops, islands, and peninsulas, as well as a cave that the architects are also using in their project. There is also a small village on one of the islands. What makes this place surrealistically beautiful is the stone pillars, unweathered fragments of hard rock formations that pop up here and there along the river banks and on windswept fields. The architects placed the “hotel for creative people” east of the township, on the bank of the Vels, where the fields of these stone pillars begin.
Just as the surrounding scenery, the hotel is exceptionally beautiful. Essentially, it replicates on a miniature scale the tourist route because the building is constructed as a “hiking loop”, a mini-route that a person has to explore, finding in it semi-hidden and particularly secluded spaces for solitude that can only be found by a persistent and experienced pathfinder. One can see some parallels with the house on the Cape Meganom that once gave its name to a namesake architectural office, but there is actually more to it: the rocks are entering the space of the hotel just like the landscapes do – the whole hotel’s narrative is focused on them. Since the hiking route in the area of the Vishera River is by definition devised for wandering spirits, hungry for new impressions and really wild nature, the hotel is its ultimate model, which answers a creative mind’s need to wander around in circles even at home – or around his temporary sojourn. Parallels with the National scenic routes of Norway will also be appropriate here, the difference being that the trail proposed by Ad Hoc is much deeper immersed in the reality of the virgin lands.
The project came about on the company’s own initiative; they developed a special website for it. “I was born in Perm, and I visited those parts – says the coauthor of the project, Stanislav Subbotin – These places are beautiful but they are far from accessible. We decided that it was high time to change the situation”. Currently, the architects are busy trying to find investors, and they say, there is already some positive feedback. Ever more often there are cases when architects propose interesting projects and then look for an investor. It will be very exciting if this initiative is indeed implemented.
Below is the project description given by the architects – so detailed that we decided to publish the whole of it.
Our idea is focused on the development of tourism in the Perm Territory – we want to make people from other parts of Russia and from other countries want to come to Perm over and over again, and we want to urge our countrymen to learn more about their own land. This is one of the main prerequisites for the development of the economy of our region. The local nature attracts a lot of people, yet currently not everyone is able to explore these parts because there are no places to stay, no hotels, and no tourist offices. We proposed a scenic route that we called “Salted Ear”. The name suggested itself when we connected the most beautiful spots on the map – and we got a silhouette of an ear. The catch-phrase “Permyaki solenye ushi” (“Salted-eared Perm people”) is the traditional nickname for people living in these parts. This has to do with the business of salt making that was once spread here. There is a popular belief that this was the nickname that was given to workers who would carry sacks of salt on their backs, because of which their ears got saturated with salt.
The hotel is situated on the bank of the Vishera River and near the Vels River, the Ural Mountains looming on the horizon. On the slope, next to the water, there is a strew of stones, a part of which continues into the forest. We designed a hiking trail winding among these stones, and inscribed the hotel into the landscape. This part of land is not actually part of the national park but it still attracts tourists with its picturesqueness.
The hotel looks as if it were growing up from the terrain, and comes down to the water in terraces. The backbone of the hotel is basically the path that circles the stone pillars and commands magnificent views of the surrounding scenery.
This is also the place where the Great Vels Cave is situated that was formed because of the underground flow of water from one large river to another (from Vels to Vishera). The hotel entrance is situated inside this cave. The locomotion scenario is such that from the dark cave the visitor gets into the light central hall of the hotel. Passing through the cave, the visitor can feel the genius loci and fully immerse himself in its history and atmosphere.
The central space of the hotel contains a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, an amphitheater with a stage, and a performance space – all alternating with stones.
In the hotel, there are studios for creative people. Essentially, these are spaces where one can do their favorite things, at the same time enjoying the surrounding landscape. You can meet here interesting people, find your co-creators, or simply enjoy the bliss of solitude. This is a place for inspiration that is not just aesthetically appealing but is also psychologically and emotionally neutral, where one can concentrate, clear his mind, and whet his artistic feelings.
A part of the hotel with the guest rooms is situated in the woodland, on an elevation, in order to provide as much as possible privacy and beautiful views to the guests of the hotel. Walking down the scenic route or sailing past the hotel in a boat, one cannot see the rooms above because they are situated at the very top, on the edge of the forest. The rooms are designed to provide as many beautiful views as possible. Each room has a fireplace in it, and a bed by the window, from which one can enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery. The hotel is not designed for a large number of guests – it is a place for solitude and inspiration.
One of the peculiar features of this hotel is the room of silence that steps out of a stone in the forest. This room is meant specially for somebody who wants to be alone with himself and his thoughts for a little while, and find inspiration. This is especially important for creative people. The bridge that leads to this room starts from the depth of the forest and “bumps” into the stone forming a sightseeing platform. The path to this place is not highlighted in any particular way. You can only run into this path by accident while strolling through the forest. Seek and you will find.
In the forest, amidst the densely growing pine trees, there is a spa zone. The visitors see a panorama of stones, the forest, the tree trunks, and thick tree crowns. The spa consists of closed rooms and an open-air jacuzzi yard.
One can also get to the spa and sauna by the path of solitude. This same path connects the sauna and the Vishera River, whose bank provides access to the water.
The sauna is sunken in the terrain and creates an impression of a cave – again, so that nobody would see those who are inside. The visitors to the sauna can enjoy the seclusion, and relax in the open air. It would be great to take a rest here after a session of Nordic skiing or a long hike. The spa center itself is made from concrete with inclusions of salt, and has a healing power.
The Vels Hotel is a synthesis of Ural nature, cultural history and modern architecture. Staying in this hotel will allow a person to enjoy the beautiful views and get a breath of fresh ideas. The architecture is meant to work in harmony with nature.
Specially for the project, we launched a website: www.velshotel.com. It contains detailed information about our hotel and the program of developing the domestic tourism in the Perm Territory.