Morphosis unveils plans for controversial high-rise hotel in tiny Alpine village

At 1,250 feet, the building would be Europe’s tallest.

March 27, 2015 |
Morphosis unveils plans for controversial high-rise hotel in tiny Alpine village

The 7132 Tower, as this hotel is being called, would be the central piece of a resort complex that would also include two buildings designed by Pritzker Prize winners: Peter Zumthor and Tadao Ando. Renderings courtesy Morphosis

Vals is a village of roughly 1,000 people, nestled in the Alps in Switzerland. That might seem like a strange place to put a skyscraper. But don’t tell that to developer Remo Stoffel or local quarry entrepreneur Pius Truffer, who unveiled their plans to build an 80-story, 381-meter (1,250-foot) luxury hotel with 107 guest rooms and suites in this tiny rural community.

That height would make this hotel the tallest building in Europe, beating out 1,012-foot, 87-story Shard in London.

The 7132 Tower, as this hotel is being called, would be the central piece of a resort complex that would also include two buildings designed by Pritzker Prize winners: Therme Vals Spa, designed by Peter Zumthor, Hon. FAIA; and an upcoming cultural facility called Valser Path, designed by Tadao Ando, Hon. FAIA, which is scheduled for open in 2017. The hotel’s designer is Culver City, Calif.-based Morphosis, founded by another Pritzker laureate, Thom Mayne.

Even before the ink was dry on its plans, the hotel was controversial. In 2012, Stoffel wrested control of the spa from Zumthor when he purchased it from the municipality. Stoffel then formed a company, 7132 Ltd., with an eye toward creating “a new tourism model for the Swiss Alps, away from mass tourism.”

 

 

Last June, 7132 Ltd. launched an international design competition for the tower. Eight architectural practices submitted proposals, but when the developer chose Morphosis’ design, a group of five jurors, in a statement issued through the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects, opposed that selection, and openly questioned the project’s scale.

“Skyscrapers in the Alps are an absurdity,” Vittorio Lampugnani, Professor of Architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, told the Guardian newspaper. In its story about the tower, the newspaper also mocked Mayne’s description of his firm’s tower proposal as “a minimalist act that reiterates the site.”

The hotel must still receive voter approval and planning permission before construction begins.  

The slim tower will feature a reflective skin that is intended to blend the structure into its surrounding environment. A podium will link the hotel to its neighboring structures. A cantilever will contain a restaurant, café, spa, and bar that townspeople can use. The tower will be capped with a sky bar and restaurant.

The tower’s target customers appear to be ultra high-net-worth tourists from Asia and the Middle East. The Guardian, citing comments Truffer made to the newspaper 20 Minuten, reports that nightly room rates would range from 1,000 Swiss francs (US$1,043) to 25,000 francs (US$26,084).

 

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