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41


BUILDING PROJECTS


ANDERMATT CONCERT HALL SWITZERLAND


Underground overtures


The new concert hall designed by Studio Seilern Architects for a Swiss ski village evolved from humble subterranean origins into a striking composition, opening up the building to the world’s leading orchestras


ndermatt is a small ski resort village of around 1200 inhabitants nestled in the Swiss Alps – a former military outpost located at a historically important crossroads of strategic routes across the mountains. However, the village’s light had dimmed significantly in recent decades, paling in comparison to other Swiss resorts. After the military pulled out several years ago, the municipality wanted to ensure Andermatt did not decline further, and decided to invest in its future. The latest example of Andermatt’s redevelopment is a world-class concert hall designed by Studio Seilern Architects, which puts the village on the map as a musical as well as holiday destination. It also does so in a surprising and stealthy way that harnessed the practice’s proven design ingenuity in cultural sector projects. This is a building mostly submerged in the earth, originally destined to be a subterranean conference room for the town’s new Radisson Blu hotel, until practice founder Christina Seilern had the vision to do something very different.


A © Roland Halbe


While the project began life as an enclosed building, its evolution into something far more ambitious is characteristic of many schemes the architect has worked on. She tells ADF: “It’s a bit like story writing, you put in the major points you’re trying to achieve, but it really takes you on an adventure.”


The project’s origins were when the Swiss Government approached Egyptian developer Samih Sawiris, who has a reputation for transforming places with scarce infrastructure or built assets into major holiday destinations. He restructured the ski lifts, and built hotels, including the stunning five-star Chedi Andermatt. Sawiris is also a “very passionate music buff,” says Seilern, explaining that her involvement began when she met Sawiris while designing two restaurants near the town: “He was talking about wanting to do a concert hall, and didn’t realise one of the things we do is performing arts!” It was not only Sawiris’ love for classical music that made him want to pursue a grander vision for the hall – then under construction as a concrete basement next to co-client Radisson’s hotel – but also pragmatism. He was aware that a small resort couldn’t rely on seasonal sports, says Seilern: “it needs to be an all-rounder.” Creating a concert hall of a standard that would attract the world’s best orchestras (including perhaps the most famous, the Berlin Philharmonic) would help make Andermatt generate revenue throughout the year as a destination.


Site & design solution The site is in the centre of the village, however it’s in an “unexpected niche,” says Seilern, adding, “normally a concert hall is


ADF JANUARY 2020 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


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