Snøhetta’s ‘Path of Perspectives’ highlights the unique features of Innsbruck’s spectacular Nordkette

The Path of Perspectives or “Perspektivenweg”, designed by Snøhetta for the Nordkettenbahn cable railway, introduces a series of ten architectural elements along the panorama trail in the alpine landscape that highlight the unique features of Innsbruck’s spectacular Nordkette mountain range.

The Nordkette is the southernmost mountain chain in the Karwendel, the largest mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps located just north of the Tyrolean city of Innsbruck. The Hungerburg and Nordkette funiculars bring visitors directly from the city center to the Seegrube cable car station at 1,905 meters above sea level, where the Path of Perspectives unfurls in breathtaking alpine surroundings. Here, the 2.8-kilometer meandering panorama trail and its individual elements entice visitors to take a stroll up its 142-meter elevational change.

Along the path, the subtle architectural interventions blend seamlessly into this spectacular landscape, offering visitors an opportunity to experience the staggering vistas of the alpine landscape from different perspectives. Every element, from the benches to the viewing platform, marks a unique point along the trail or serves as a meeting point. “Using small design gestures, we highlight striking elements of the Alpine landscape, adding to the experience of the dramatic mountain scenery rather than creating one eye-catching structure,” explains Patrick Lüth, Architect and Managing Director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck office.

The viewing platform, which seems to grow out of the terrain, elegantly projects over the edge of the landscape and emphasizes the topographical changes. Standing on the platform, visitors can enjoy uninterrupted views of the Inn Valley below, while the metal grate underfoot gives a sense of floating above the terrain. At the transition from the timberline to scrub mountain pine vegetation, a staircase structure marks this natural phenomenon. A counter allows hikers a chance to lean and admire their first impression of the striking Langer Sattel and Frau Hitt peaks. The wooden platforms surrounding the gentle elevation of the so-called “Big Stone” on various levels make it a popular resting spot. At a slightly higher elevation, stepped wooden platforms form an amphitheater. 

Each of the ten elements are shaped from Corten steel, a material choice that was inspired by the context and prior interventions. “Perspektivenweg” adapts the existing technical structures of Nordkette’s avalanche barriers, which are made of the same weathered steel. Larch wood, typical for the local forests, forms its seating and reclining platforms. Quotes from Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein are inscribed on the new architectural features. The words invite visitors to take a moment and reflect, both inwardly and out over the landscape, giving a dual meaning to the path of perspectives.

Snøhetta’s Path of Perspectives joins other Nordkette architectural highlights such as the Zaha Hadid-designed Hungerburg funicular, which has connected the city with the Hungerburg since 2007, and stations of the Nordkettenbahn, designed by renowned Tyrolean architect Franz Baumann. 

Snøhetta collaborated with Prof. Allan Janik, a Wittgenstein scholar, to select the quotes interspersed throughout the trail. 

Design and info © Snøhetta

Images © Christian Flatscher

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