Nebelhorn Summit Restaurant

Oberstdorf / Germany / 2017

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The new summit restaurant atop the Nebelhorn mountain in Germany combines culinary delights with breath-taking alpine views. The building materials needed for its construction had to be flown by helicopter to the site located at an altitude of more than 2,200 metres.


The Nebelhorn summit can be reached by a lift, that has been used by some twenty million visitors to the mountain since it began operation in 1930. At the time, it was the longest aerial tramway in the world. And, even now, there is no lift station in the Allgäu Alps higher than the Nebelhorn summit station, at 2,214 metres. From there, visitors are rewarded for their twenty-minute gondola ride with a view of 400 different summits. The architectural firm Hermann Kaufmann ZT succeeded in creating a restaurant at this altitude that, as the architects describe it, “makes optimum use of the constructive and creative potential of timber.”


Open year round, the Nebelhorn lift in Oberstdorf is one of the most important tourism sites in the Allgäu region. To make the ride even more attractive, the Vorarlberg-based architects have now added a modern restaurant to the Nebelhorn summit. It is an elegant replacement for the outdated restaurant that was already there, and fits harmoniously with the raw experience of the natural landscape. The project solved a huge problem with the previous building: The chalet built in the 1950s obscured the view of the Nebelhorn from the valley – it even blocked the view from the tramway. As Hermann Kaufmann, founder of the architectural firm, explained in an interview, the guiding principle was “to liberate the summit, to bring it into the centre of attention and to make it the key part of the experience.”


In order for visitors to better enjoy the natural surroundings, the architects moved the new building away from the summit station and minimised its size along the line of sight to the peak. A small pavilion with a viewing terrace serves as an entrance with integrated bar and bistro. The restaurant itself is located on the lower floor and reached via a wide staircase or by lift. The architects surrounded the completely glazed dining room with a generous terrace.


Modern reductionism and alpine tradition were successfully combined in the integrative design by the architects. Glazed railings border the area and serve to tie together the new summit restaurant and terrace buildings to a unified design tract. The organic form allowed the planners to enclose the parts of the existing structure that were worth preserving, while integrating the building into the topography. A sub-basement containing the technical rooms is faced with natural stones from the surrounding area.


The architects integrated the massive concrete remainder of a former chair lift station into the structure and were thus able to construct a large part of the building on existing foundations. In order to minimise weight and helicopter flights as much as possible, they opted for timber frame construction. “Building at this altitude is always a challenge,” said site manager Manuel Thurner of HTB Bau, Arzl in Pitztal. His company specialises in building in high mountain terrain, in wind and inclement weather, as well as special logistics. For the summit restaurant on the Nebelhorn, the engineer and his team carried out demolition and complete structural work, including timber construction, without interrupting operation of the aerial tramway. Throughout the entire construction phase, his team had a daily 20-minute commute by lift. Only one pallet of building material fit into the gondola, so the majority of the material had to be flown in by helicopter from the midway station. The ready-mixed concrete for the massive elements had to be precisely adjusted to the specifications and delivered just in time by Geiger Beton from Sonthofen. For floor slabs, retaining walls on the slope side, two elevator shafts and the foundations of the north face platform, the concrete producer used a special formulation to delay hardening by up to six hours due the transport and flight times. The cement was produced at HeidelbergCement’s Schelklingen cement plant.


Since opening of the restaurant, visitors to the Nebelhorn summit can now enjoy delicious cuisine with a full Alpine panorama and a view of all 400 mountain peaks. And the lower terrace level offers an additional special attraction or thrill: north face platform. The entire summit is ringed by this extensively secured and easily accessible grated steel walkway. The barrier-free platform offers a view over the entire Allgäu range and opens up completely new perspectives with a 600-metre view down the north face of the Nebelhorn.


Source: HeidelbergCement AG/context 4/2017

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    The new summit restaurant atop the Nebelhorn mountain in Germany combines culinary delights with breath-taking alpine views. The building materials needed for its construction had to be flown by helicopter to the site located at an altitude of more than 2,200 metres. The Nebelhorn summit can be reached by a lift, that has been used by some twenty million visitors to the mountain since it began operation in 1930. At the time, it was the longest aerial tramway in the world. And, even now, there...

    Project details
    • Year 2017
    • Work started in 2016
    • Work finished in 2017
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Sports Facilities / Tourist Facilities / Restaurants / Interior Design / Cable car stations
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