A decade ago, Norwegian architects imagined the most incredible belvederes and tiny buildings along the Trolls’ road to attract foreign visitors to the sublime fjords, thus inventing a new form of architectural tourism. These small, sporadic, well-balanced interventions changed the views, enhanced the landscape, and inspired designers and clients across Europe.
On the ridge at the top of the Aiguille Rouge summit in Les Arcs, at 3,226 metres altitude, the SG Architecte team has designed a panoramic walkway as an extension to the cable car top station. Suspended over the void and made as transparent as possible, it allows everybody the chance to approach the dizziest of heights.
Aiguille Rouge, the highest summit in the resort’s ski area, was chosen as the most suitable location to bring to fruition the municipality’s desire to create an exceptional visitor experience and building a small project that would make big waves. The development of Aiguille Rouge has been split into three main phases: 2018 creation of the walkway, 2019 renovation of the base station and 2020 creation of a panoramic solarium, zip wire and cafe.
A few short steps away from the cable car top station, on the rocky outcrop, the mountain ridge separates the municipalities of Villaroger and Boug-Saint-Maurice / Les Arcs. Here, where the slope levels off, is the ideal location to build a promontory. Situated on the fringes of the Hauts de Villaroger national natural park, the ground must be preserved to protect the indigenous plants growing in the area. The structure therefore has only three points of contact with the ground: one at the point of the existing structure, and one at the centre of the new structure where the two cantilevered walkways meet, the third linking to the ridge.
SG Architecte was only tasked with the walkway design, with Ingélo (the engineering branch of the Compagnie des Alpes) taking responsibility for the technical aspects. Free of any size constraints, the architects chose the shape of a symmmetrical cross to allow pedestrians to move freely around the structure as they wish, avoiding the cul-de-sac effect; and to make the most of the two, equally stunnning views of Mont Pourri and the Beaufortin.
In this breath-taking setting, the viewpoint was designed to be as transparent as possible, in order to accentuate the truly spectacular backdrop, using a minimalist structure which is as close to invisble as possible in this vast landscape. Metal was the material of choice, with galvanised steel used to resist the very aggressive weather conditions.
The V-shaped structure with the purlins arranged in star shape meet both the technical construction requirements and the desire to have the least possible impact on the site both visually and technially. This metallic framework, composed of bolted parts, uses an architectural style that is reminiscent of the cable car itself.
The whole structure was built in the workshop then an aerial crane (helicopter) was used to transport it in nine sections each weighing twenty tons. The transparency was enhanced by using Jakob metal web netting for the side rails and glass at each end, creating the illusion of a spectacular high-altitude diving board. The metal grating underfoot has wider spacing as the visitor moves towards the ends of the