Location Kronplatz, Bruneck, South Tyrol, Italy    Architect Zaha Hadid Architects    Finished 2014    Cost ca. 30 Mio €

Zaha Hadid’s Messner Mountain Museum is the perfect example of alpine architecture. The museum teeters on the edge of the Kronplatz, resembling a UFO that crashed into the Earth. Of the six Messner Mountain Museum sites, Kronplatz is the crown jewel. The massive glazing and observation deck overlooks South Tyrol and beyond. The smooth concrete surface merges with the rough stone blocks and the sparse grasses that still thrive at this height. Hadid’s creation not only resembles the landscape, but is one with it. Not only is the museum dedicated to alpinism, skiing, and mountaineering, but it also serves as a launchpad for hang gliders and paragliders. The perfectly suited architecture has turned the mountain itself into part of the museum.

This consideration gave rise to an idea for a short film:

To explore the way the Mountain Museum works on its visitors, enveloping them in a sense of peace and introspection, I wanted to tell the story of an ultra trail runner who is always on the cusp of his physical maximum. He is in a battle between his ability and what the mountain demands of him. Even at the summit, he feels the call for more. Once inside the haven of the museum though, he finds peace and silence. The protagonist is guided by the curves of the architecture and the knowledge on the walls, deep into the mountain itself. Here he happens upon a quote that enlightens him; “Nobody goes as far as a person who doesn’t know where he is going” – Bill Tillman. Detached from his pressure to perform, he leaves the museum on the other side and finally enjoys the here and now. He is connected to himself and the world.

 

Photographing the Mountain Monument

Between filming the video and photographing the museum, this project took two days. Despite COVID, the MMM was fully operational, which meant it was crowded. Carrying heavy equipment all day with a breathing mask at almost 2,300 meters above sea level was a strain. The Kronplatz is a very touristy area with several cable cars, museums, restaurants and sports stations on its summit. Thousands of visitors flock to the plateau every day to enjoy the view. I wanted to completely hide this mass tourism in my project and had to be very patient and pay attention to the correct section in my picture compositions. The aim of the photo series was not to show a real image of mountain tourism, but to provide inspiration for what coexistence between man and nature in the Alps can look like.

Concrete Volumes

Architectural legend Zaha Hadid is known for the way she creates free-flowing designs that integrate into the environment. The Messner Mountain Museum Corones is an iconic example. The concrete cladding surrounds visitors and gives the sense that you are actually inside the rock of the mountain. The staggered and snaking walkways appear as if they were paths cut into the side of the alps. I wanted to be sure to craft my compositions to showcase the way that the museum’s intricate interior envelops you, convincing you that you are sheltered within the Kronplatz.

  Moderne Architektur Alpen, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Berge, Mountains, Contemporary, Außergewöhnliche Gebäude, Architekturfotografie Österreich, Deutschland, Italien, Schweiz, Alpine Fotografie, Fotograf Alpen, Bergfotograf, Architekturfotograf für  Interieur, Exterieur Werbefotografie und Filmproduktionen

Making Moments: The Empty Chair

It has always been my goal to capture living architecture. I make an effort to include people in some frames — not just for scale — but to show the architecture being interacted with as intended. In doing so, I look for moments that correspond to my feeling about the building.

Speaking of feelings, there is a motif that I happened upon and explored while shooting here: the empty chair.

The chair calls out as an invitation for visitors to take place. It appears to say “be in the here and now. Feel appreciation for this environment.” It was important to me to include this element, and in turn, the mood of this moment.

Photographing Hadid's Exceptional Exterior

The otherworldy design of the observation deck, and the expansive viewing window, are captivating. They appear to break through the soil like their own outcropping of peaks. By waiting for the right directional light, I photographed the museum as it was kissed by an illuminating strip of sun, chiseling out the shape of the concrete cladding and allowing our attention to rest on them. It was absolutely necessary to show the museum in relation to its surroundings, both in the tighter compositions as well as the wider and more expansive views.

By showing the observation deck hanging over the landscape, we imply its staggering height. Seeing the museum built into the peak, being passed by clouds, we note its incredible location and impressive construction. The grass sprouting up beside the museum adds a layer of organic texture, softening the hard image.

Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Mountains, Contemporary, Extraordinary Buildings, Architectural Photography Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Alpine Photography, Alpine Photographer, Mountain Photographer, Architectural Photographer for Interior, Exterior, Commercial Photography and Film Productions

The Ever-Changing Mood of the Messner Mountain Museum

During the outdoor shots, it was exciting to watch the change in mood throughout the day. The soft tones of twilight and the overcast morning sky alternate with the bright colors of the evening sun and result in very different interpretations of the MMM Corones. Decerning these moods, I was able to take a series of photos that — for me — stand out from the many other photos of this very popular Instagram hotspot.

The MMM Beneath South Tyrol's Stars

After 16 hours of recording, it was time to grab a post-work beer…but I couldn’t enjoy it. I could hold myself and took my camera to capture the late evening light as it casts the museum in a transfixing light. After a short dinner break, I was back in front of the museum at 10:00 p.m. and captured a terrific night shot of the building. The concrete colossus rests beneath thousands of stars on the top of the mountain. It appeared to be illuminated by the cool light of the galaxy, but in truth, by the special construction of LEDs on my drone.

Moderne Architektur Alpen, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Berge, Mountains, Contemporary, Außergewöhnliche Gebäude, Architekturfotografie Österreich, Deutschland, Italien, Schweiz, Alpine Fotografie, Fotograf Alpen, Bergfotograf, Architekturfotograf für Interieur, Exterieur Werbefotografie und Filmproduktionen Moderne Architektur Alpen, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Berge, Mountains, Contemporary, Außergewöhnliche Gebäude, Architekturfotografie Österreich, Deutschland, Italien, Schweiz, Alpine Fotografie, Fotograf Alpen, Bergfotograf, Architekturfotograf für Interieur, Exterieur Werbefotografie und Filmproduktionen

Off the mountain and back at my computer, I turned my attention to color grading. By deliberately reducing certain colors and consciously emphasizing other colors, I was able to create a set of images with different moods that still worked cohesively as a series. While the images in the exterior shine in strong blue and orange tones, the tonality in the interior is emphasized. The gray stone walls are only interrupted by the warm glowing strips of light and thus focus the view of the museum guest on the exhibits. 

An Alpine Icon

It’s undeniable that The Messner Mountain Museum Corones is an alpine architecture icon. Afterall, Messner called it the coronation of his museum structure. I might even go so far as to say that it is mine too! The pictures from MMM Corones earned me recognition at the European Architectural Photography Prize, a nomination for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and a nomination for the international Fine Art Photography Awards and, not to forget, a wonderful memory that will accompany me for the rest of my life.

Equipment

Camera

1. Lens
2. Lens
3. Lens
4. Lens

Drone

Tripod

Software

Canon EOS R

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II
Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L MACRO
Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L II USM
Canon RF 24-105MM F4L IS USM

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Feisol CT-3441T Rapid

Capture One 21, Adobe Photoshop CC


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    About the Shooting


    Project Series: Modern Alpine Architecture
    Style: Architectural Photography
    Building: Messner Mountain Museum Corones
    Location: Kronplatz, Bruneck, South Tyrol, Italy

     Moderne Architektur Alpen, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Berge, Mountains, Contemporary, Außergewöhnliche Gebäude, Architekturfotografie Österreich, Deutschland, Italien, Schweiz, Alpine Fotografie, Fotograf Alpen, Bergfotograf, Architekturfotograf für  Interieur, Exterieur Werbefotografie und Filmproduktionen