architek[tour] tirol – guide to architecture in tyrol

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up hill, down hill - cable-lift stations, mountain restaurants and mountain huts

A decisive factor when building up in the mountains is always the tension between the existing nature and the artistic intrusion. The excitement of the landscape and the, in some cases, extreme general conditions, demanded and still demand that the architects find fitting answers and approaches to solutions.

This tour offers you an assortment of buildings from across Tyrol – cable car stations, mountain restaurants, mountain huts and viewing points, which when hiking or out skiing, are worth while taking a closer look at. The spectrum of selected projects ranges from the icons of alpine constructing such as the Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen or Valluga cable car stations, to the modern highly complex technological solutions.

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a tour to 30 buildings

Galzigbahn Valley Station

Kandaharweg 9, 6580 St. Anton am Arlberg, A
Architecture: driendl*architects (2006) Builder-owner: Arlberger Bergbahnen AG Open to the public: during hours of operation The valley station was awarded a prize at the 2009 ISR Architectural Awards.

The Galzigbahn valley station presents itself as a very individual and at first sight, strange artificial design. However, the glass-steel-concrete building is by no means an architectural self-dramatisation, but a form developed directly from the innovative cable lift technology. A sweeping building with a glass roof rises above massive concrete head walls. This portrays the lifts sequence of motions and reveals the technical inner mechanism.

© Bruno Klomfar

Vallugabahn (Mittel- und Bergstation)

Bergstation Galzigbahn, 6580 St. Anton am Arlberg, A
Architecture: Willi Stigler sen. (1951-1954) Builder-owner: Arlberger Bergbahnen AG Accessibility: von St. Anton aus mit der Galzigbahn zur Talstation der Vallugabahn

Mit der Mittel- und der Bergstation der Vallugabahn setzte Willi Stigler sen. zwei autonome und auf den jeweiligen Ort abgestimmte Baukörper in die Felsregion. Ganz der Sprache der 1950er Jahre verbunden, vermitteln die beiden Stationen mit ihren dynamischen, plastischen Formen und der Farbgebung Optimismus und Fortschrittsglauben. Wie Adlerhorste kleben sie selbstbewusst am Berg und lassen die Touristen die Dramatik der Landschaft "hautnah" erleben.

© B&R

Rendlbahn Valley Station and Footbridge

Ingenieur-Julius-Lott-Weg, 6580 St. Anton am Arlberg, A
Architecture: driendl*architects (2009) Builder-owner: Arlberger Bergbahnen AG Open to the public: during hours of operation The mountain station was converted by the LEGOS architects, this included an extension building as a restaurant.

Just 150 metres from the Galzigbahn– also planned by the Driendl* architects – the new Rendlbahn connects the town centre with the other side of the valley for the first time. The lower level of the dynamic steel, glass and concrete building is used as a bus terminal, with guests being able to directly access the gondola’s boarding area via an escalator. A long sweeping footbridge connects the end of the ski slope with the valley station, which has been integrated into the surrounding area.

© Milli Kaufmann


Pardatschgrat, 6561 Ischgl, A
Architecture: Jäger Architektur (2004-2005) Builder-owner: Silvretta Seilbahn AG Ischgl Open to the public: only open during the winter season Accessibility: from Ischgl with the Pardatschgrat lift (approx. 15 min.)

The panorama restaurant with its congress centre on top of the 2.620 metres high Pardatschgrat in the Ischgl skiing area is distinguished by its simple forms and materials. A particular challenge during the construction of the two buildings was to find a technological solution to compensate for the frost-thaw rising and sinking of the ground below.

© Fotostudio Mario

Addis Abeba(r) Ski Hut

Galtür 1b, 6563 Galtür, A
Architecture: VENTIRAARCHITEKTEN (2007) Builder-owner: Adalbert Walter Open to the public: daily from 10:00 hrs, Après Ski during the season from 15:00 hrs

Situated at the Alpkogel skiing slope in the Galtür skiing area is the "Addis Abeba[r]”, a ski hut without the usual hut romanticism. With the basic idea being a snow crystal, ventira architects placed a white cube with cut-outs and a protruding panorama window box on the slope.

© Albrecht I. Schnabel

Möseralm Cable Lift

Seilbahnstraße 44, 6533 Fiss, A
Architecture: Peter Thurner, Antonius Lanzinger (1995) Builder-owner: Fisser Bergbahnen GmbH Open to the public: during hours of operation TIP: Fiss Summer-Fun-Park up on the Möseralm

The technical challenge of building one station for two cable lifts was solved by the winner of the Fisser mountain lift contest – two buildings placed to form an angle and affixed by a single sheet steel roof. Due to the drop in the level of the ground, it was possible to keep the volume of the double station quite low, hence, integrating it with the overall appearance of the community of Fiss.

© Günter R. Wett

Rifflseebahn Valley Station

Mandarfen 89, 6481 St. Leonhard / Pitztal, A
Architecture: Josef Lackner (1994) Builder-owner: Pitztaler Gletscherbahn Open to the public: during hours of operation You will find more buildings designed by Josef Lackner in a specially compiled "Lackner Tour”.

The architectural originality of the Rifflseebahn valley station is typical for Josef Lackner’s (1931 – 2001) work, which he always kept at a distance from fashions and trends. In this case, with the in form and content he played with the theme of regional building, which he took and transformed into new relationships – for example, he took autonomous buildings developed in room and functional programmes and covered them with "old fashioned” wood shingle.

© Christof Lackner

"Sunna Alm" – Mountain Restaurant

Bergstation Rifflseebahn, 6481 St. Leonhard / Pitztal, A
Architecture: reitter_architekten (2007) Builder-owner: Pitztaler Gletscherbahn Open to the public: when the Rifflsee cable car is operating Accessibility: directly next to the Rifflsee cable car

In 2007 the "Sunna Alm” at the Pitztaler Glacier and Rifflsee ski resort was Europe’s first passive house to be built at an altitude of 2300 metres. Both the inside and outside of the restaurant building are characterised by wood and glass, with which modern tourism and traditional mountain life are connected without slipping into the embarrassing cliché of being rustic. The outside of the building was deliberately finished in larch-wood-shingle as a reference to Josef Lackner’s Rifflsee cable car valley station.

© Mojo Reitter

Wildspitz Cable Car

Hinterer Brunnenkogel (Bergstation), St. Leonhard / Pitztal, A
Architecture: Baumschlager Hutter Partners (2011-2012) Builder-owner: Pitztaler Gletscherbahn Open to the public: Summer and winter operation Accessibility: Coming from the valley, take the Glacier Express up to the valley station of the Wildspitz Cable Car. TIP: Sculptor Rudi Wach’s "Chapel of White Light” is located near the valley station.

Taking the world of forms found in the high alpine landscape as a basis, the architects from Vorarlberg designed two new stations of the Wildspitz Cable Car as organic sculptures enveloped in curved aluminum sheet panels. Integrated in the mountain station is "Café 3440,” currently the highest-lying restaurant in Austria, with a freely suspended terrace glazed on all sides, which offers spectacular views into the glacier world.

© Marc Lins

Gaislachkogl Lift (Valley, Intermediate and Mountain Stations)

Dorfstraße 115, 6450 Sölden, A
Architecture: obermoser arch-omo (2009-2010) Builder-owner: Ötztaler Gletscherbahn GmbH & CoKG Open to the public: during hours of operation TIP: In the meantime, the middle station has been expanded - again by obermoser + partner - to include an à la carte restaurant and a self-service area.

As part of the reconstruction of both Gaislachkogel lifts it was necessary to rebuild the valley, intermediate and mountain stations. Each station has been designed to fit its location formally with functional requirements developed accordingly. One thing they have in common is the type of construction; a self-supporting steel construction covered by a transparent membrane.

© Markus Bstieler

"Ice Q” Mountain Restaurant

Gaislachkogl 3a, 6450 Sölden, A
Architecture: obermoser arch-omo (2013) Builder-owner: Ötztaler Gletscherbahn GmbH & CoKG Open to the public: only during the winter season Accessibility: Take the Gaislachkogl Gondola from Sölden TIP: In the immediate vicinity is the James Bond Museum "007 ELEMENTS" (architecture obermoser + partner, 2018), which is largely located inside the mountain.

Directly next to the top station of the Gaislachkogl mountain gondola, the "Ice Q” was likewise erected by Johann Obermoser. In contrast to the curved shape of the top station, it is designed as a straight-lined and angular structure. Featuring glass all the way around, the building offers guests impressive views into the alpine world on several stacked levels stacked other. All the way at the top, as a special highlight, is a roof terrace connected via a suspension bridge with the peak of the Gaislachkogl Mountain.

© Markus Bstieler

Festkogelbahn (lift stations)

Gurglerstraße 93, 6456 Obergurgl, A
Architecture: Peter Thurner (1989) Builder-owner: Liftgesellschaft Obergurgl GmbH Open to the public: during hours of operation

Situated at the entrance to Obergurgl, running up to the Festkogel alpine hut, – the location of the valley station was also influenced by the architects – is one of the first new generation cable lifts. To express the architectural topical excitement between technology and nature, Peter Thurner and Antonius Lanzinger developed an autonomous sculpture as a massive exposed concrete base with a glass and sheet metal roof placed on top.

© Peter Thurner

Hoadlhaus – Mountain Restaurant

Axamer Lizum 7, 6094 Axams, A
Architecture: Klaus Mathoy (2002) Builder-owner: Axamer Lizum Aufschließungs AG Accessibility: directly next to the Olympic railway mountain station The mountain restaurant was awarded a prize at the 2009 ISR Architecture Awards.

The Hoadlhaus panorama-restaurant in the Axamer Lizum is a steel and glass construction offering a 360° view. The façade facing towards the south consists of seven large glass roll-up doors, which can be completely drawn into the roof’s wooden dropped ceiling. If the weather is fine the mountain restaurant’s conservatory can be transformed into a huge sun terrace.


Glacier Terminal

Mutterbergalm, 6167 Neustift im Stubaital, A
Architecture: ao-architekten (2006-2007) Builder-owner: Wintersport Tirol, Stubaier Bergbahnen KG Accessibility: Route "Regio Stubai" from the Innsbruck main station TIP: With the cable lift up to the Schaufeljoch Mountain Restaurant "Jochdohle” and then on to the summit platform "TOP OF TYROL”.

The glacier terminal extension provides the existing Stubaier glacier cable lift valley station with a new reception area. The extension connects the existing heterogeneous buildings and, for the first time presents the single and double cable lifts as a single unit. A form-giving element is the curved and greened roof, beneath this is the transparent cladding of the lifts reception area.

© Arno Gisinger


Stubaier Gletscher – Höhe 3150 m, 6167 Neustift im Stubaital, A
Architecture: Peter Kaserer (2000-2001) Builder-owner: Stubaier Bergbahnen KG, Wintersport Tirol Open to the public: Via the cable lift services Eisgrat I, Eisgrat II and Schaufeljoch to the Schaufeljoch mountain station then approx. five minutes walk. Accessibility: all year round during hours of operation TIP: "Stubaier Gletscherpfad” (Stubaier Glacier Path) from the Eisgrat mountain station up to the Jochdohle (250 metres elevation, approx. one hour walk).

The "Jochdohle” is Austria’s highest altitude mountain restaurant (3150 metres). Sitting on a small rock ledge and secured to the rock face is a three storey steel tower, which serves as a structural and functional "backbone”. Steel girders are fixed to the tower in a radial manner. During the summer the round silver shimmering building hovers above the glacier; in winter it sinks into the fresh snow.

© Peter Kaserer

Schaufeljoch Chapel

Schaufeljoch, 6167 Neustift im Stubaital, A
Architecture: ao-architekten (2012) Builder-owner: Heinrich Klier Open to the public: yes Accessibility: On the way from the mountain station of the Schaufeljoch Cable Car to the mountain peak platform "Top of Tyrol.” TIP: Hanging in the small steeple is a bell that anyone can ring if they want to.

Tourism pioneer Heinrich Klier had a chapel dedicated to the memory of his companions built directly on the ridge of the Schaufeljoch Mountain. Very plain in its form and materiality, the structure is reduced to the basic elements of a classic chapel and offers a place of calm and contemplation, which is open to everyone, in the midst of a lively ski circuit.

© Günter R. Wett

TOP OF TYROL – Summit Platform

Stubaier Gletscher – Großer Isidor (3.200 m), 6167 Neustift im Stubaital, A
Architecture: LAAC (2008) Builder-owner: Wintersport Tirol approx. 10 minutes from the Schaufeljoch-Lift mountain station
In 2010 the platform was recognised at the BTV (bank for Tyrol and Vorarlberg) Building-Owner-Awards-Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Situated at an altitude of 3200 metres right in the middle of the Stubaier Glacier, the summit platform "TOP OF TYROL” offers a very impressive view across the Tyrolean Mountains. Based on the existing topography, LAAC architects designed a "symbol in the snow”, which nestles into the flowing movements of the Great Isidor’s rocky ridge and juts out nine metres above the ridge edge.

© LAAC Architekten

Hungerburg Cable Railway – The Congress, Löwenhaus, Apine Zoo und Hungerburg stations

Rennweg 3 (Talstation Congress), 6020 Innsbruck, A
Architecture: Zaha Hadid Architects (2005-2007) Builder-owner: INKB Open to the public: daily 8:30 a.m.–17:30 p.m (when the cable car is running)

After the Bergisel ski jump, the four station buildings and the oblique suspension bridge across the river make up the second project Zaha Hadid realised in Innsbruck. Starting from the fundamental concept of a shell and the shadow thrown by it, she designed an organically shaped glass shell over a concrete landscape, the translucent roof spreading and extending, as it were, the stations’ spaces, thus staging a drama of movement adapted to the particular character of each location.

© Norbert Freudenthaler

Nordkettenbahn – Cable Railway Station’s Buildings

Höhenstraße 145, 6020 Innsbruck, A
Architecture: Franz Baumann (1927-1928) Builder-owner: Stadt Innsbruck Open to the public: daily. 08.30 – 17:30 hrs (lift operation) Accessibility: Hungerburg cable railway or bus J From 2004-2006 the station’s buildings were adapted functionally and spatially by Schlögl & Süß.

The architect Franz Baumann originally constructed the three "Nordkettenbahnen” cable car station‘s buildings – Hungerburg, Seegrube and Hafelekar – from 1927 – 1928. These belong to the most important modern age buildings in Tyrol. The way the highly sensitive architecture was adapted to match the mountain is still a fine example of alpine building. Especially worthwhile visiting is the Hafelekar mountain station, which is pressed into the rock like a swallow’s nest and provides a view towards the town and Karwendel.

© B&R

Frau-Hitt-Lift Valley and Mountain Stations

Seegrube, 6020 Innsbruck, A
Architecture: Holzbox (1998) Builder-owner: INKB Accessibility: Intermediate station Nordkettenbahnen (Seegrube) TIP: Skyline park for free-stylers

Starting at the Seegrube is a short chair lift up the west slope to the Frau-Hitt-Warte. Both lift stations are reduced to a functional and technical minimum, are by no means spectacular, but are still individual architectural designs. The steel-wood constructions were prefabricated and lifted to their locations by helicopter; here they were connected to their previously constructed foundations.

© Günter Kresser

Kristallhütte (Crystal Hut) Annex

Zellberg 306, 6280 Zellberg, A
Architecture: Bernhard Stoehr (2013) Builder-owner: Bergbahnen Skizentrum Hochzillertal Open to the public: during the winter or summer season Accessibility: Accessible in the winter from Kaltenbach via the skiing region cable cars; in the summer by car over the Zillertaler Höhenstraße to the water reservoir for artificial snow production, then on foot (approx. 1 hr.)

Standing on a slope side in the middle of the Hochzillertal skiing area, the "Kristallhütte” ("Crystal Hut”) is more of a hotel than a pure ski hut. In order to create further accommodation options besides the existing rooms in the stock building, a three-story annex with maisonette apartments was erected. Utilizing the sloping site, the annex is largely edged into the terrain; only the elevated, fully mirrored wellness area completely emerges above ground.

© Kristallhütte

Mountain Restaurant / Mountain Station Horberg Lift

Horberg 412, 6260 Schwendau, A
Architecture: Michael Pfleger, reitter_architekten (2000) Builder-owner: Mayrhofner Bergbahnen AG Open to the public: during hours of operation Accessibility: Valley station in Schwendau BTV (Bank for Tyrol and Vorarlberg) - 2001 Building-Owner-Awards-Tyrol, recognition category "Building for Guests”

The structure of the Horberg lift mountain station at an altitude of 1700 metres dates back to the 1960s. Originally, it was intended that only the lift hall’s restaurant area on the ground floor was to be extended. However, the architects developed a new and extensive concept improving both the functional procedures and the architectural qualities. A characteristic element is the glazed roof at the front end of the building and the hall, which as a spatial gesture has been extended by two bays.

© Günter R. Wett

Granatkapelle (Garnate Chapel)

Penkenjoch, 6292 Finkenberg, A
Architecture: Mario Botta, Bernhard Stoehr (2013) Builder-owner: Josef Brindlinger Open to the public: during the summer months

With the Granatkapelle (Garnate Chapel), Swiss star architect Mario Botta executed his first structure in Austria in Penkenjoch im Zillertal. As a firm counterpoint to nature, he placed an oversized crystal in the shape of a rhombic dodecahedron on a ledge east of the reservoir. Clad with corten steel plates on the outside and laid with slender larch wood slats on the inside and lit solely through an opening in the roof, the sculptural structure stands out on account of its clear and precise geometry.

© Enrico Cano

Ahornbahn – Valley and Mountain Stations

Ahornstraße 878, 6290 Mayrhofen, A
Architecture: M9 ARCHITEKTEN Senfter Lanzinger (2005-2006) Builder-owner: Mayrhofner Bergbahnen AG Open to the public: during hours of operation TIP: Panorama circular route from the mountain station to, among other places, Ahornsee.

The Ahorn mountain and valley stations in Mayrhofen in the Zillertal both differ from many other contemporary lifts due to their precise association with the location and landscape. It’s not the highly complex technological "content” as a shuttle-lift – which alone due to the technology requires very high structures – that puts them into focus, but the constructive dialogue of the station’s high constructions with their respective surroundings.

© David Schreyer

Freiraum Ahorn

Bergstation Ahornbahn, 6290 Mayrhofen, A
Architecture: M9 ARCHITEKTEN Senfter Lanzinger (2010) Builder-owner: Mayrhofner Bergbahnen AG Accessibility: directly next to the Ahorn lift mountain station During the summer season the Freiraum offers the Nature-Experience-Centre "game of senses” for both adults and children.

At 2000 metres above sea level, the "Freiraum Ahorn” offers what the name (open space) promises: Open space in the sense of a comprehensive offer of space for the cable lift company staff, this being concealed on the ground floor under a concrete slab, and, open space in the sense of a place of peace and relaxation for guests, enabling them to enjoy a lounge-atmosphere and panorama view in a large guest room situated in a bridge-like building above.

© David Schreyer

Olperer Hut

Dornauberg 110, 6295 Ginzling, A
Architecture: Hermann Kaufmann (2006-2007) Builder-owner: Deutscher Alpenverein Open to the public: during summer operation Accessibility: From Mayrhofen towards Gitzling to the Schlegeisspeicher (toll road) – there are two possibilities of ascending from the reservoir (approx. 600 metres elevation). TIP: Starting point for a number of mountain trips, possibilities of overnight stays.

The Olperer Hut built at an altitude of almost 2.400 metres in the Zillertaler Alps is an intentional and simple answer to the unique and exposed location. The main objective was to develop a very simple shelter to fit the high alpine location. A refuge for hikers and mountaineers with its innovation being in its simplicity.

© Hermann Kaufmann

Hochbrixen Cable Car

Liftweg 1, 6364 Brixen im Thale, A
Architecture: Heinz & Mathoi & Streli (1986) Builder-owner: Bergbahn Brixen im Thale AG Open to the public: during hours of operation TIP: Filzalmsee (5 minutes from the mountain station), panorama round trip and numerous nature and water based attractions for both large and small.

During the 1980s, the Hochbrixen cable car stations were the turning point of decades of Tyrolean cable car design stagnation. Committed to a constructive approach to a solution, the architects interpreted the stations as architecturally refined purpose built buildings, this without falling back on past and present day clichés.

© Günter R. Wett

Steinplattenbahn Valley Station

Alpegg 10, 6384 Waidring, A
Architecture: Peter Thurner (1998) Builder-owner: Steinplatte AufschließungsgmbH und Co.KG Open to the public: during hours of operation The Winkelmoosalm lift stations built on the Bavarian side of the skiing area were developed by m9 architects in 2009.

On the Tyrolean side, the Steinplatten lift provides access to the Steinplatte Waidring skiing area situated on the high plateau at the Tyrol-Salzburg-Bavaria triangle. A characteristic element of the valley station planned by Peter Thurner, is the wave shaped roof under which various rooms and areas of activity can be found. Long and sweeping, it is suspended above the massive base areas forming a large covered open space area.

© Günter R. Wett

Goldried I – Valley Station

Europastraße 5, 9971 Matrei, A
Architecture: Gerhard Mitterberger (1998-2000) Builder-owner: Thomas Ganzer, Marktgemeinde Matrei, Martin Wibmer, Lukas Resinger Open to the public: during hours of operation Accessibility: directly on the Felbertauernstraße Opposite the valley station is an MPREIS designed by Machné & Durig in 2004.

The Goldried lift valley station situated on the outskirts of Matrei i. O. provides various service facilities, the Tauern Stadium built shortly later by Gerhard Mitterberger provides a centre. The main idea during planning was to creatively integrate the infrastructure for tourism, including the large parking spaces, into the alpine surroundings. The service building for skiing schools and ski-hire and, the cable car stations themselves, were all built of simple industrial materials and designed to fit the requirements of mass tourism.

© Zita Oberwalder

Stüdl Hut

Glor-Berg 18, 9981 Kals am Großglockner, A
Architecture: Albin Glaser (1994-1996) Builder-owner: Deutscher Alpenverein, Sektion Oberland Open to the public: only open during the summer Accessibility: via the Kalser Glocknerstraße (toll road) to the Lucknerhaus, from here approx. 2.5 hours walk TIP: Ideal starting point when climbing the Großglockner

In 1868 Johann Städl and Egid Pegger built the first hut between the Freiwandspitz and the Großglockner; however, severe subsidence made it necessary to rebuild. To compensate for the exposed position at 2800 metres, Albin Glaser designed a long stretched out curved building with a roof that is arched on the wind-side of the building; this reaches down to the ground. The other three facades of the largely self sufficient hut have been covered with wood shingle, the large window openings to the south allow a view right across to the Dolomites.

© Stefan Roßgoderer