by Meghna MehtaAug 05, 2020
At an elevation of 3251 metres, noa* architecture has designed Ötzi Peak, an observation deck that looks over the distant mountain ranges of northern Italy. The architects capture the sublimity of the scenery - at the summit of Schnals Valley Glacier ridge - with stimulating, ample views of the landscape and reservoir below, peeping into Austria. The observation platform abides by the natural topography of the impressive slope, appearing frozen in time in the unique geographic location.
Along the glacier lies Hotel Grawand, one of the few hotels in Europe established at an altitude as high as 3,000 metres above sea level. Network of Architecture designed the viewing platform as an observation tower for hikers, skiers and mountain nomads to appreciate the fascinating history and the breathtaking panorama of the snow-covered mountainscape.
Ötzi, also known as the Iceman, is the natural mummy of a man who lived in the Ötzal Alps between 3400 and 3100 BCE. Ötzi Peak overlooks the site where the mummy was discovered, near Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch, on the fringe between Austria and Italy.
The observation deck hovers over the ground to incorporate a preexisting summit cross, only receiving support where there is a static obligation. Built on a light structure made of Corten steel, the modern materials of the observation deck blend evenly into the landscape. The platform’s ‘plateau grid’ rests on top of slim crossbeams, enveloped in vertical plates of Corten steel.
Views of the landforms seem to open and close along with the movement of the viewer, a magical effect produced by the tall vertical elements that outline the gentle curves of the structures. “The experience invites viewers to discover new perspectives time and again,” the studio explains, while adding that “this unique dynamic creates a fully immersive, sensual experience in which time stands still for a moment and every other souvenir is eclipsed”.
To guide viewers’ eyes towards the place of Ötzi’s discovery only a few metres away, a geometric funnel was cut into the platform and angled to carry the viewer along an intellectual journey to the Iceman. The Corten steel funnel turns dark brown, grey and black as it surrenders to unite with its backdrop. The end of the funnel is finished with a glass railing to present visitors the impression of ‘walking on air’.
Speaking about the inspiration behind Ötzi Peak, noa* shares, “Where a raindrop begins its long journey into the sea, new perspectives appear: at the new observation deck on the Schnals Valley Glacier, and your mind is refreshed with the wide-open views”.
Name: Ötzi Peak 3251m
Typology: Viewing platform
Location: Schnals Valley Glacier, South Tyrol (Italy)
Client: Schnalstaler Gletscherbahn AG
Architecture: noa* network of architecture
Completion: August 2020
Surface area: 80 m2