Les Diablerets / Switzerland / 2007 (Project)
Landmark panoramic gallery and restaurant on a mountain top
Client: Partnership between Swarovski, Formula One Management & Red Bull Extreme Sport Division
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold (UK)
A truly unique site at the summit of ‘Glacier 3000,’ which as the name suggests sits at 3000m above sea level. The site itself is in Switzerland close to the border of the French and Swiss Alps, the nearest town is Gstaad. The peak commands spectacular views of the Western Alps, the project captures this panorama and make it accessible. The peak itself, and therefore the intervention, is visible from 50km in all directions. Towards the summit sits an existing ski lift structure and motor room designed by Mario Botta. The design connects the termination of the ski lift with the summit via a covered route, thus providing an enclosed and protected journey all the way from Les Diablarets Village to the peak.
The restaurant and escalator rotate as one element, with a minimal physical connection to the mountain top pivoting on a bearing sunk deep into the mountain itself. Emerging from the ski lift, the rotating arm docks at the base station. An escalator transports the visitor to the restaurant, at which point, the breathtaking view reveals itself and the whole structure begins its rotating journey.
To say the logistics of construction at 3000m are challenging would be an understatement. Dramatic topography, extreme weather conditions and limited space create challenging conditions for any kind of construction. The revolving structure would be assembled from a series of pre-fabricated lightweight components, manufactured for that purpose from composite materials, and sized to suit the limits of helicopter-assisted transit and installation (The existing structures on site (Ski-lift station) was assembled using similar techniques, relying on earth-moving equipment such as diggers and cranes being helicopter-ed up to 3000m for the duration of construction).