Set at an altitude of 2,030 meters, Snøhetta has built a wooden viewing tower and panorama room that stands as a landmark among the mountains of Alpbachtal, Austria. The new timber building sits on a spectacular spot near the Wiedersberger Horn peak and next to the mountain station of the Hornbahn 2000 cable car.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau ski resort, the ski area invested in a new chairlift, the new Hornbahn 2000, to replace an outdated ski lift and invited Snøhetta to design a viewing tower on top of the service room of the cable car to create a landmark that enhances the mountain experience for visitors. Called “Top of Alpbachtal”, the design concept for the 13-meter-high timber tower in the Tyrolean Alps references alpine building traditions.
“Timber buildings have a great tradition in the Alpbachtal region. It was obvious for us to use these references and create a modern interpretation. Based on traditional construction methods, the structure could be realized as resource-conserving and sustainable as possible,” says Patrick Lüth, Partner and Managing Director of Snøhetta Studio Innsbruck. “Just as importantly, we developed the design in dialog with the alpine landscape.”
The new timber structure, which becomes narrower at the top, is clad in shingles handmade by a local shingle maker. A panorama room is available for skiers and also for snowshoe walkers, ski tourers, and hikers in summer. Passing the lift control room, located in the concrete base of the timber building, visitors reach a lounge that is open to the public. Traditional Tyrolean farmhouse parlors inspired the design of this panoramic room on the first floor. The lower part of the two-story room is clad with wooden wall paneling and thus refers to the traditional parlors. In the upper part, on the other hand, the open construction of the roof structure is visible – a reminiscence of the tradition of agricultural building.
The contemporary Tyrolean parlor offers an informal seating landscape with seating areas and wooden platforms. Everyone can choose their own individual place to rest in the freely accessible gathering place. The space is sheltered from the wind but not heated. Here, everyone can take a break without having to consume anything. Large panorama windows provide light and a far-reaching view of the breathtaking scenery and surrounding mountains. As a keyless structure, it also builds on the alpine tradition of shelter structures that can be used during summer and winter.
At the very top of the viewing tower, you can enjoy the unique 360-degree panoramic view of the alpine landscape in the fresh air. And as confidently as the tower on the mountain rises into the sky, the equally shingle-clad valley station nestles into the landscape. All in all, the new structures of the new Hornbahn 2000 cable car present themselves as an ensemble that consciously reacts to the respective surroundings and landscape.