NOA* Network of Architecture Builds a Floating Structure in the Ötztal Alps
Humans have been conquering Europe’s Ötzal Alps for over 5,000 years. Take Ötzi, a Copper Age man whose perfectly preserved remains were found embedded in the glacial ice on the border of Austria and Italy in 1991. Not far from there is something prehistoric man may have never imagined: a viewing platform perched at the summit of the towering Grawand mountain. The structure, by NOA* Network of Architecture, floats weightlessly on the tip-top of a rocky pile of shale and gneiss at an elevation of more than 10,500 feet. NOA calls it Ötzi Peak, and it’s made of only two materials: glass and Cor-Ten steel, a necessity given the site’s challenges; materials had to be durable enough to withstand the harsh Alpine conditions. Each piece had to be flown in by helicopter and assembled without heavy machinery. “There’s no standard process for a site like this,” NOA partner Andreas Profanter says. “So our approach was straightforward, the fewer different materials, the better.” The viewing platform is located just a stone’s throw away from the Glacier Hotel Grawand and reached via cable car (or, for the adventurous, a hiking trail) from the Italian village of Maso Corto. The scenery is stunning from any angle, but on one side is a secondary platform that cantilevers out 4 feet from the main structure. Visitors who bravely step up to the glass railing and gaze into the valley below can see the place where Ötzi the Ice Man was discovered.