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 wideopen views.
Designed by noa* network of architecture
Photographed by Alex Filz
There is something sublime about this special place, right at the top of the Schnals Valley
Glacier ridge, where Italy's impressive alpine landscape soars high above the reservoir
below, and Austria is around the corner. In this unique geographic location, fate decides
whether a drop of glacier water will make its way towards the Mediterranean or the Black
ONWARDS TO THE PEAK
The Hotel Grawand lies at the very top of this unique alpine intersection, which at over
3,000 meters above sea level, is one of the few hotels in Europe located at such an
altitude. The summit is a stone's throw away at a distance of about 50 meters. The
breathtaking landscape view of snow-covered mountain peaks makes time standstill. Hikers
and skiers visit the peak to experience nature at its fullest: rugged, stony, with wind and
weather – pure.
In order to enable visitors planning a more extended stay, as well as day-seizing mountain
nomads, to experience not only the breathtaking ride to the mountain station, but also to
get to know the fascinating history of this alpine wonderland, noa* designed a unique
A viewing platform was developed based on a light structure made of Corten steel, giving a
modern touch that also blends in with the landscape. The design incorporates the preexisting summit cross, and the platform only touches the ground where there is a static
necessity - creating a detached, almost floating construction which lets you become one
with the mountains and breathe in the freedom.
The platform follows the natural topography with a plateau grid placed on top of slender
crossbeams, which are enveloped in vertical lamellas of Corten steel. The parapet-high,
vertical elements trace these gentle curves in their sequence. This creates a magical
effect: an opening and closing of views that follows the movement of the viewer - an
invitation to discover new perspectives time and again. This unique dynamic creates a fully
immersive, sensual experience in which time stands still for a moment and every other
souvenir is eclipsed.
Speaking of time, a geometric funnel was cut into the undulating viewing platform to direct
viewers eyes towards something timeless - the place where Ötzi was found. Only a few meters from the Austrian border, the angle of the viewing funnel takes the visitor on a carefully crafted, intellectual journey to the Iceman. The viewing funnel was designed with Corten steel, and like the slats on the railing, the steel turns dark brown, grey and black as it
yields to the elements and becomes one with its surroundings. The funnel end is completed
with a glass railing which gives your thoughts flight in breathtaking suspense – it seems
like you are walking on air.