Team: Norman Foster, David Summerfield, Kirsten Scott, Ignacio Diaz Raya, Eduardo Ruiz de Assin Fierro, Emmanuelle Dechelette, Jan Dierckx, Jon Espinosa, Josh Corfield
In collaboration with: Küchel Architects AG
A Stage for St. Moritz: Eispavillon by Foster + Partners
Client: Kulm Hotel, St. Moritz
Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: St. Moritz (CH)
The Kulm Hotel is closely connected to the history and rise of St. Moritz. With a clever wager, an English hotelier introduced winter sports tourism, with recognizable success even today. The Country Club and adjacent Kulm Park belong to the ensemble of the hotel. In the wintertime, the large area has been used for ice skating, for the Winter Olympics and for working out new sports. This year, the medals for the World Ski Championships were awarded there directly after the opening of the pavilion.
Lord Norman Foster was commissioned with renovating and expanding the Kulm Country Club. He is a resident of the town himself; the architect’s understanding of what St. Moritz means to its residents made a significant contribution to the design.
The original structure, built in 1905, touches the lower-lying grounds of the park at one corner. With its plinth of natural stone, it looks almost fortified. Indeed, it is not possible to see inside from the street. The Eispavillon continues the streetside wall, but this dissolves into horizontal slatting. Only in the stage area does it rise to eaves height. On both sides, the design allows a view of the mountains and of Kulm Park.
The Country Club consists of three volumes. At the corner, an imposing hexagonal stairwell forms the main entrance. Two wings lead away at right angles. The longer of the two goes towards the new Eispavillon and stands out with its delicate wooden wallboard façade. This creates a stark visual contrast to the otherwise plastered masonry of the façade surfaces. The new Eispavillon takes up the theme of the prominent handwork and the sophisticated use of wood as a building material. Y-shaped wooden columns hold up the jutting roof, which protects a large portion of the pavilion from snow and rain. Towards the park, this area forms large steps. This is how it connects the different levels and can be used as both a stage and tribune seating.
Next in the sequence of Country Club and Eispavillon comes another, smaller pavilion. This looks like a scaled-down copy of its neighbour and completes the ensemble for now. However, a further building for equipment rentals could find a home here in future.
Copper piping is a key element that runs along the ensemble. It serves the country club as an eavestrough and the adjacent structures as edging. It creates a strong visual connection so that the two buildings, despite their different construction periods, can be understood as a single unit.