Created at The Bartlett School of Architecture
Alposanti is an extensive closed world of exaggerated ‘Swissness’ on a mountaintop in the Swiss Alps. The scheme was designed in reaction to declining tourism figures in Switzerland, partly due to the effects of climate change on snowfall and the curtailing of the winter ski season. Alposanti is designed not only as a mass tourism resort, but also as a proposed relocation of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which dominates the Alpine village every January.
Located on the Ebenalp peak within the Säntis Massif, the proposed architecture houses the Davos influx and enables collaborative discussion within a single closed world building. The scheme also references the idea of hyperreality, a subject written on by Italian academic Umberto Eco as he travelled the USA—speculating on the American fascination with duplicating culture to make it ‘better’ and more exciting. Eco references the characteristics of Disneyland, as a place that warps and distorts Americana within a setting of ‘fake nature’. In parallel, Alposanti does the same within the context of Switzerland. The project references motifs of ‘Swissness' (landscape, culture and architecture) and plays them out within the closed world, including the decision to make the entire building a mountain, in homage to the Alps that are so much a part of the Swiss identity.
The architecture operates as a ‘summit’ in both definitions of the word; a meeting between heads of government via the World Economic Forum, as well as being the highest point of a mountain.