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Alpine fantasy? Morphosis reveals Europe's tallest skyscraper in Switzerland


Super-tall tower by Thom Mayne’s practice proposed next to Peter Zumthor’s legendary Therme Vals spa

Earlier today (25 March) Morphosis unveiled plans for a 381m-tall ‘mirrored’ tower featuring 107 hotel suites - a jaw-dropping scheme which is being billed as the tallest building in Europe.

The estimated £135 million project for spa hotel owners – Remo Stoffel and Pius Truffer – would surpass Renzo Piano’s 309-metre tall London Shard which is currently Europe’s tallest tower.

Planned to complete in 2019, Morphosis’ design features a podium linking the ‘7132 Tower’ to nearby buildings and a cantilevered structure containing a restaurant, café, spa, and bar.

Mayne said: ‘Specificity is really the central driver in our practice. Each design starts from unique conditions in site, program, performance… The architectural solution generated is correspondingly unique to each project.’

He continued: ‘For the 7132 hotel and arrival, the incredible setting demands reducing materiality and presence in the design so that, as in all our work, the connection to site becomes paramount.

‘As much as possible, the hotel is a minimalist act that re-iterates the site and offers to the viewer a mirrored, refracted perspective of the landscape.’

Morphosis' proposed 7132 Tower in Vals, Switzerland

Morphosis’ proposed 7132 Tower in Vals, Switzerland

The Los Angeles and New York-based firm was shortlisted against 6a Architects and Steven Holl Architects for the prestigious commission in December last year.

Morphosis was then selected for the commission in February after the design competition was terminated without a winner recommendation from the jury.

Following the announcement, five jurors – led by competition chair Louisa Hutton of Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton – issued a public statement through the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) distancing themselves from Morphosis’ appointment.

The statement – translated from German into English – said there were ‘significant question marks’ over the architectural formulation, scale, site-specific conditions, arrival situation and delivery of the chosen design.

Constructed from locally quarried quarzite slabs, Therme Vals was completed three years before Zumthor – who had previously been relatively unknown – won the Pritzker Prize.

Zumthor lost out to Stoffel in a bid to buy the resort three years ago.




Readers' comments (3)

  • Is there no limit to developers greed and some architects egos?
    What could be more inappropriate, particularly in this location? Get rid of the tower. Surely the Swiss authorities will have the sense to reject it?

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  • Mirrored glass may be ephemeral and reflect the surroundings to 'disappear' into the sky in just the right light conditions. But, even if this was possible and believable outside of a computer screen, what about at night? All tall buildings look the same with the lights on. This is not to mention how a small alpine village in a pass deals with the traffic at the base of the tower. Maybe everyone arrives by helicopter....

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  • Can't stop laughing - have you seen the tiny alpine tracks/road they will carry their plant & materials across.

    They would have to build a highway to supply the site and the area would be devastated forever.

    No wonder the architect's photo shows him laughing too...

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