Top of Tyrol / astearchitecture

Architects: astearchitecture
Location: Stubai Glacier in Tyrol, Austria
Project year: 2008
Design Team: Arch.DI Kathrin Aste, Arch.DI Frank Ludin, Thomas Feuerstein
Client: Wintersport Tirol AG & Co, Stubaier Bergbahnen KG
Construction Engineer: aste construction
Soil Mechanics Engineer: Ingenieurbüro Wietek

During recent years a number of observation platforms have been created attempting by different means to confront the visitor with the beauties of nature.

This panorama platform was commissioned by the management of one of the five glacier ski arenas in Austria.

Like most of its competitors the management is intent upon retaining a high level attractiveness of its ski region.

One hour’s drive from Innsbruck, the Stubai Glacier offers a large variety of mountain climbs and hikes. The aim of the newly erected platform is therefore mainly the revival of seasonal and summer tourism.
During the winter season the platform can be accessed the weather conditions permitting.

Like the structural engineer we were directly commissioned for the project. The client placed complete trust in our team and left the team with unlimited scope for implementing an innovative design.

The mountain station Schaufeljoch at 3180 metres above sea level is reached via the mountain station.The path to the mountain peak platform starts from the funicular. One climbs up a number of steps to
the ridge leading to the Great Isidor. After another 70 meters walk through natural landscape one arrives at the platform.

The Great Isidor is centrally positioned in the Stubai Glacier and divides the Stubai Glacier into a western and an eastern half.

Only by creating access has a panorama view become feasible enabling the onlooker to grasp the dimensions of the landscape.

The unique position of the platform opens up an unobstructed view onto the permanent glacier as well as the 109 three thousand metre peaks of the Tyrolean Alps. The breath-taking 360 degree panorama
stretches from the Zillertal and Stubai Alps to the Dolomites and Chalk Alps. The platform invites the visitor to take a rest and to enjoy the peace and beauty of the mountains.

“As clients we wanted to create a spiritual place in which even stressed mountaineers can find peace and recuperate while letting their thoughts wander and enjoying the seemingly endless expanses of the
mountain world” says Reinhard Klier, Head of the Stubai Gletscher Bahn.

The observation of the glacier during the summer months with a critical eye to climate change and the resulting melting of the glacier is a though-provoking interesting experience.

As unusual as the panorama from the platform might seem, so crucial is the question concerning the solution to the invasion of nature or natural space. The platform is intended to represent a reaction to,
and also form part of this natural environment. So the design goal was more the design of a situation in space rather than a building.

By setting in scene and exaggerating the existing topography the landscape generates shaped architecture, in other words, artificial landscape. It expresses both a dynamic and static aspect and
forms part of its transformation: an obstruction interacting with the landscape, each reflecting and influencing the other.

The panorama platform on Mount Isidor is a drawing in snow, architecture as a walk along and transformation of a ridge. Path and platform are found in the brittle rock; for six months the lamellas will disappear under the
snow; only the swords extending beyond the northern will remain visible all year round.

As in a sketched drawing, wind and sun expose the lamellas like feint traces on the snow surface.Through the external influence of the glacier the structure of the steel design is transformed, providing a
vantage point for shapes of ice and snow.

Due to its high iron content the rock has a red hue. It is clearly textured and serrated, which gives it a unique character. The choice of materials emphasises a contrast to the zinc covered steel structures of
the surrounding ski region.

The platform is a steel construction made from weather resistant steel. The construction principle of the girder grate is an unstructured grid. The twisted, excrescent swords of Corten sheet steel are box
section beams with a triangular cross-section. The standing girders to the rear of the foundations are supported by reinforcement strips.

Between the 50 cm tall supports there is the floor of grating.
The arched railing is monolithic. The handrail and bench are made of larch wood and the filling consists of a stainless steel net.

The load is transferred to the foundations and to the upslope rock anchors. The platform lies in the high alpine permafrost area. This requires the foundations to be braced by 15m long rock anchors in the load
area and a steel-reinforced concrete foundations on which the structure rests.

The sandblasted steel swords of weather-resistant steel extend 9m beyond the rock edge. All in all 19 tonnes of corten steel, 60 m2 of grate and 50 m wood banister larch with stainless steel net were

The structure was erected exclusively by helicopter. Therefore the adaptation of the elements of the structure to fit the load limits of the helicopter and the perfectioning of the mounting surfaces and
accuracy of fit were essential aspects of design improvement.

A high level and standard of pre-fabrication, simple mounting surfaces and accuracy of fit are essential criteria for erecting an edifice 3200 meters above sea level.

As the erection of the building site, concrete works and the mounting of all the building components had to be achieved by helicopter, the weather conditions obviously had a considerable influence on planning
and execution.

Cite: "Top of Tyrol / astearchitecture" 30 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • tym

    wow… i am completely humbled… at first glance, i tot this was an artistic impression… but it turns out, its real.. and feasible…

    truly amazing… wld love to go there b4 i die…

    places to see b4 death… truly amazing…

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  • roadkill

    very convincing project… and beautifully executed. please post some drawings

  • pi

    beautiful and a bit scary…

  • johanna

    Beautiful project, but I think we need to discuss if this type of projects (e g the Norwegian mountain road project, too) does not in a sense defeat their purpose. The beauty of the place partly stems from the fact that it is uninhabited, and with these structures we are adding another element and thus inhabiting the space. By adding structures to highlight “Nature”, we are also transforming it. For better or worse?

    • mastoras

      Completely agree with your way of thinking – but you know as well that the decisions for the realization of such constructions is not an architect’s field – like “Contemporary Art wrote…if it HAS to architct is obliged to make it the best possible

  • Contemporary Art

    This is very theatrical. I like it a lot. I agree that this compromises the mountain a bit, but if something has to go there this is definitely one of the best options.

  • Triplescience1

    I actually wol (wowed out loud)

  • JDR

    I agree with CA.
    The touristic pressure of visiting these “places you must have seen” is immense. I am therefor very glad that a good design like this has won it from another wooden cabine on the top of the mountain that would have been a misfit in the overall view.
    I really like the dramatic feel of the platform,
    absolutely amazing!

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  • NMiller

    The image of the visitors at the end of a slender cantilever overlooking the mountains approaches the sublime. I can only imagine being there.

    The image on the main page looks like a rendering, but to find that it is a real project is a nice surprise.

  • Wyatt L O’Day

    It’s simply a wonderful piece. I love how the structural expression is intertwined into the landscape of the mountain. Nicely done.

  • CJ

    WOW! Amazing. it fits so perfectly with the site!

  • Mariola

    Amazing project. These images really justify the shape. Movement and danger.

  • http://none archidork

    another innovative project but… please make sure to have frequent maintenance check up. Not as an architect but as an individual with acrophobia, I probably will get a heart attack.

  • Liam

    So keen to see sum drawings

  • MZ

    I have to agree with johanna. The project is beautiful, but totally unneccessary. It destroys the very thing it tries to show. We are all impressed from the natural beauty of the place. Now take the same photos and try to imagine WITHOUT the structure. WOW! If you are standing next to the platform you can enjoy the same beautiful view as from the structure, with one minor difference: if you stand ON the structure, you don´t have to look at it.
    Further more, unfortunately I have to say, that the pictures are taken from a carefully chosen angle: on the otherside is a mountain-cabin with a restaurant just a hundred meters climb down the mountain, which is connected with the valley below through a cable lift. In other words: this mountain has been raped: cable lift, lodge, viewing platform. Imagine that all the surrounding mountains so highly installed…no, please don´t.
    Let nature be nature.

  • martin

    I like how the structure attaches to the earth. it makes me think of the work of lucy and bart.

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  • http://www, pouyan mokhtarani

    this is wander full but i think it`s hard to keep clean from snow storms…

  • Yura

    Very clever design. And to everyone who says that this is “out of place” or it destroys the nature, you can obviously see that it’s beside some sort of resort, since you can see a chair lift at the bottom of the canyon.

  • Peter


  • 2MACoff

    ну, так короче, по мне так ШЛЯПА!

  • John H

    @MZ & Johanna

    I’m afraid that humans are part of nature too – don’t ever forget that we not just outside observers.

    If you’re a small child, this gives the experience of being on the edge of a cliff without the risk. The integration with the landscape seems well considered too.


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  • mastoras

    What if we could stop building new things for 5-10 years…stop acting aggressive to the environment….but that’s just utopia
    There ‘ll be always somebody who will do it even more aggresively