Right at the top of the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge, where Italy’s impressive alpine landscape soars high above the reservoir below, and Austria is around the corner, lies Hotel Grawand, which at over 3,000 meters above sea level, is one of the few hotels in Europe located at such an altitude. The summit is a stone’s throw away at a distance of about 50 meters. The breathtaking landscape view of snow-covered mountain peaks makes time standstill. Hikers and skiers visit the peak to experience nature at its fullest: rugged, stony, with wind and weather – pure.
In order to enable visitors planning a more extended stay, as well as day-seizing mountain nomads, to experience not only the breathtaking ride to the mountain station, but also to get to know the fascinating history of this alpine wonderland, noa* network of architecture designed a unique architectural structure.
A viewing platform was developed based on a light structure made of Corten steel, giving a modern touch that also blends in with the landscape. The design incorporates the pre-existing summit cross, and the platform only touches the ground where there is a static necessity – creating a detached, almost floating construction.
The platform follows the natural topography with a plateau grid placed on top of slender crossbeams, which are enveloped in vertical lamellas of Corten steel. The parapet-high, vertical elements trace these gentle curves in their sequence. This creates a magical effect: an opening and closing of views that follows the movement of the viewer – an invitation to discover new perspectives time and again. This unique dynamic creates a fully immersive, sensual experience in which time stands.
A geometric funnel was cut into the undulating viewing platform to direct viewers eyes towards something timeless – the place where Ötzi was found. Only a few meters from the Austrian border, the angle of the viewing funnel takes the visitor on a carefully crafted, intellectual journey to the Iceman. The viewing funnel was designed with Corten steel, and like the slats on the railing, the steel turns dark brown, grey and black as it yields to the elements and becomes one with its surroundings. The funnel end is completed with a glass railing which gives the impression of walking on air.
Design and info © noa* network of architecture
Images © Alex Filz