Professor, architect and designer with an intense love of concrete and an aficionado of the alps, architect Othmar Barth (1927-2010) was considered futuristic, often misunderstood and a bit of a silent hero of the rural monumental. A visionary craftsman with a deep sensitivity of materials, landscapes, people and traditions, he was an architectural pioneer and master of adaptation in the art of harmonising the materiality of concrete to the aesthetic of nature.
Born in the Italian region of South Tyrol, Othmar Barth’s architecture and design is today revered with fellow style aficionados, and one of his triumphs and most recognised works can be found along the shores of Lake Caldaro (Kalterer See) at the Seehotel Ambach. Built in 1973, Barth’s iconic Seehotel is a short drive from his then home in nearby Brixen, and perhaps this explains his architectural understanding of Alpine space, boundaries, form and the relationship of the outside to the inside.
The son of a traditional carpenter and craftsman, Othmar Barth learnt at an early age how to craft materials, how to shape and crucially appreciate the visual heritage of the Alpine regions. He moved to Graz to the Technical University, then three formative years spent in Rome. In 1975 he took a post as Professor of interior design and design at the University of Innsbruck Austria, Barth has inspired a generation.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Othmar Barth succeeded in building the Cusanus Academy in Brixen, Skigymnasium Stams, and the housing estate Haslach in Bolzano. He was a pioneer for new construction in the Alpine region. Barth spent three years on the design of the Seehotel Ambach, taking the language of the early 1970s, the geometric lines and the curves.
His trademarks can be experienced at the Seehotel, which was recently considerately refurbished and a new bathhouse was added by South Tyrolean architect Walter Angonese.