Tucking away in the impassive mountains of Alpbachtal, Austria, and perched 2030 meters above sea level is a panorama room and tower built by Snøhetta. The project was commissioned by the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau ski resort to celebrate its tenth anniversary. They commissioned Snøhetta to replace an old, out-of-style ski lift with a new chairlift.
Snøhetta drew inspiration from the beautiful snow-capped surroundings and alpine building traditions for constructing the tower. Called, ‘Top of Alpbachtal’, the tower is located near the Wiedersberger Horn peak, and the Hornbahn 2000 cable car mountain station. It was designed to function as a landmark that uplifts and elevates the mountain experience of skiers and visitors as well. The imposing tower is connected to a narrow volume that rises thirteen meters above the ground and is clad in locally-crafted shingles.
A panoramic viewing room has been inserted into the tower, and it provides stunning views to not only skiers but summer hikers, snowshoe walkers, and ski tourers. The concrete base of the tower holds a lift control room, which is followed by a public lounge. The viewing room is located on the first floor of the structure. This format was inspired by the traditional parlors of Tyrolean farmhouses, wherein the lower sections would have a wooden wall paneling finish and an open roof similar to agricultural buildings.
The lounge in the tower has been designed in a modern Tyrolean style. It functions as an informal seating area for skiers and visitors to meet up and relax in. The room is marked by wooden seating platforms, giving visitors their own space to unwind in after a long day of skiing. The lounge is sheltered and protected from the wind, and visitors aren’t required to consume anything if they don’t feel like it. Massive panoramic windows provide surreal views of the stunning alpine landscape. The particular structural style was picked as it was suitable for both winters and summers. The peak of the viewing tower provides visitors with 360-degree views of the exquisite alpine scenery. The shingles on the valley station allow the structure to harmoniously merge with the landscape.