This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the restaurant category. See the full list of winners here.
Faced with the mind-numbing beauty of the Austrian Alps, how can any man-made structure compare? For Baumschlager Hutter Partners, whose Wildspitzbahn restaurant-and-ski-lodge is perched at the edge of an alpine summit thousands of feet high, they just can't. The low-lying, self-effacing retreat was intentionally made to "keep a low profile," and when possible --- during snowfall --- disappear altogether under a thick blanket of fresh snow.
The Wildspitzbahn's curvy, streamlined form was determined by both the peculiar site conditions (extreme altitude, ice shelf, high winds) and programmatic considerations. Given the glacial mountain floor, the pod-like structure had to be anchored to the bedrock at minimal points, resulting in a lot of cantilever action. The construction site was so small that nearly all of the building components had to be prefabricated before being assembled in pieces on-location. The aluminum cladding help deflect the turbulent mountain winds that rap the sides of the building.
The lodge primarily functions as the terminus for a brand new cable car system. The hull of the station stores the ski lifts, which ferry skiers from the slopes straight t0 the vertiginous restaurant/lounge and back. Inside, oiled oak floors --- installed by local craftsmen --- and smart timber furnishings form a negative image of the frost-bitten exterior. The café is bounded on one side by expansive, curving panoramic glazing, with large full-height picture windows to the front and rear that admit as much sunlight as possible. A wrap-around observation deck encircles the hall letting visitors soak up the majesty of the Alps before them. Don't worry, a tall glass wall will keep you from stumbling over the precipice while trying to take that couple self-portrait.