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Jury disowns client's decision to appoint Morphosis in Vals

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A raft of high-profile judges have washed their hands of the decision to select Morphosis for a 100-suite hotel next to Peter Zumthor’s legendary Therme Vals spa in Switzerland

Five jurors – led by competition chair Louisa Hutton of Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton – have issued a public statement through the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) distancing themselves from the 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.

SIA president Stefan Cadosch, former SIA president for Zurich canton Sacha Menz, renowned ETH Zurich professor Vittorio Lampugnani and EM2N founder Daniel Niggli are the fellow signatories.

The owner of the Swiss resort – known as 7132 – announced it had chosen Morphosis for the prestigious commission last week.

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.

But the competition was then terminated without a winner recommendation after the jury –which also included a 7132 representative – ‘agreed to disagree’ on several key issues.

A source close to the competition said: ‘The three final schemes were very different and the jury realized there were some principle questions that were not going to be solved by the competition. The jury therefore decided to not recommend a winner and terminate the process.’

Disagreement centered around the new building’s strategic place within the ‘top high-range’ market for resorts, according to the source.

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

The jurors’ statement said: ‘The three competing schemes were in principle different approaches, providing fascinating answers to some questions but leaving other important questions unanswered. After an additional appraisal exercise there was no consensus on a winning project.’

7132 declined to comment on the statement. Morphosis’ scheme is expected to be revealed next month.



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