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
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 cliff 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
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 worked.
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