Foster+Partners unveil nature inspired innovation centre overlooking the Alps

Innhub La Punt, located in the Engadin Valley in Switzerland, is a new innovation-cum-community centre by Foster+Partners that charms with a unique contoured roofscape.

by Anmol Ahuja Published on : Feb 06, 2021

Building on the idea of iconic architecture catalysing non-urban areas by facilitating an influx of people and ideas to the location, the Innhub La Punt forms a space that seeks to bring visitors together with the local community in order to influence mutual prosperity, the creation of new jobs, and an effort to revitalise local crafts and produce in the picturesque Engadin Valley. According to the architects, the space delves on the idea of a ‘third place’, apart from one’s home and workplace, where one feels at ease to drive collaboration through creativity and spirit. Intended to function primarily as a mixed-use development, the Innhub La Punt will house offices, seminar spaces, retail spaces, sports facilities, a restaurant and a sprawling underground car park. Through this state-of-the-art and extremely contextual intervention, the centre seeks to be a melting pot of ideas and creativity, a meeting point for startups, tech companies, university students, locals, and tourists to drive a collaborative spirit.

The site is located at a prominent location at the entrance of the village in Engadin Valley | Innhub La Punt| Foster+Partners | STIRworld
The site is located at a prominent location at the entrance of the village in Engadin Valley Image: Courtesy of Foster+Partners

The building finds its foundations at a prominent spot near the entrance to the village at the mouth of the valley, and finds inspiration from local building styles, techniques and materiality, as well as the overwhelming landscape features surrounding it in the form of the Swiss Alps. A protective stucco perimeter wall envelopes the entire site boundary, akin to the thick, insulated walls and deep windows characteristic of Engadin Valley homes, designed to keep the cold at bay. These walls, serving as a modern interpretation, are said to “enable pockets of shelter and enhanced microclimate”.

The structure comprises cuboidal volumes for functional, public spaces, topped by a mountainous roofscape | Innhub La Punt| Foster+Partners | STIRworld
The structure comprises cuboidal volumes for functional, public spaces, topped by a mountainous roofscape Image: Courtesy of Foster+Partners

Spatially, retail spots and several public functions are located along the main street, the primary edifice of the building, while the more private functions face the surrounding landscape. A public route through the site draws life and movement into the meeting and collaboration spaces, allowing people to glimpse the energy and vitality of the community hub. Through the courtyard, these functions “pull the greenery into the site”, making the court a natural, thematic extension of its great natural outdoors.

The space will house commercial spaces, an auditorium, cafés, restaurants, and sports and retail facilities | Innhub La Punt| Foster+Partners | STIRworld
The space will house commercial spaces, an auditorium, cafés, restaurants, and sports and retail facilities Image: Courtesy of Foster+Partners

What is essentially a low-rise ensemble of cubical volumes and blocks, scaling three storeys, is elevated in the middle through a contoured, mountainous roofscape constructed in timber that emulates the organic, towering terrain of the ranges surrounding it, essentially forming an atrium that is several floors in height, without the additional structural load or floors. This area is dubbed the ‘village square’, the social focal point of La Punt, comprising an amphitheatre and a gathering space with an overhead space ranging between 10 and 18 metres. The lower, cubical masses are clad in larch shingles, while the roofscape is clad in timber shingles.

The space is also naturally lit through generous skylights cut into the contoured roofscape. A distinctive rooftop café and terrace will be built on top of the amphitheatre, set against the backdrop of the valley. The roof also incorporates provisions for renewable energy systems, arranged on angled surfaces along the slope of the mountainous roof to avoid accumulation of snow. Along with the lighting needs offset by generous daylighting provisions, the photovoltaic assembly and other energy-efficient systems generate a third of the building’s energy demands. 

Innhub La Punt Draws Inspiration from local buildings and construction techniques, including the recessed window masses | Innhub La Punt| Foster+Partners | STIRworld
Innhub La Punt Draws Inspiration from local buildings and construction techniques, including the recessed window masses Image: Courtesy of Foster+Partners

Project Details

Name: Innhub La Punt
Client: Caspar Coppeti, Christian Gartmann, Beat Curti, Jon Erni
Architect: Foster + Partners
Collaborating Architect: Kuechel Architects
Foster + Partners Design Team: Norman Foster, Nigel Dancey, Pablo Urango, Taba Rasti, Lucas Mazarrasa, Emilio Ortiz, Alex Duro, Julio Serrano, Piers Heath, Anis Abou Zaki, Liam Alsop, Martha Tsigkari, Sherif Eltarabishy
Completion date: 2022
Site Area: 8800m2
Gross Built Area: 10320m2

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