Location Innsbruck, Österreich  Architect Snøhetta  Finished 2018

Nordkette Innsbruck is a mountaneering playground. Everywhere you turn, there is a slope to ski, craig to climb, or trail to fly down. To access this Tyrolean alpine paradise, one must ascend Zaha Hadid’s Hungerburg funicular. As you ride the rail line and then transition into a cable car, chugging through the fog toward the top, a captivating series of structures emerge from the environment. They blend in seamlessly with the surroundings, made from local resources and designed to follow the shapes of the slope. If you blink, you may miss each wonderful element. Snøhetta’s Perspektivenweg emulates its name perfectly. It is truly a path of perspectives. Ten thoughtfully designed, totally unique architectural elements have been placed along the Nordkettenbahn cable railway’s panoramic viewing trail. Each structure gives the viewer a special view of the alps beyond. The crown jewel of Perspektivenweg though is its Corten steel viewing platform that suspends you out over the face of the mountain, giving you a completely unobstructed view and immense feeling of freedom.

Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Architecture, Modern Alpine Design, Berge, Contemporary, Extraordinary Buildings, Architectural Photography Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Architectural Photographer for Interiors, Exterior Advertising Photography and Film Productions

Two Great Pieces of Alpine Architecture Working in Tandem

The road to Perspektivenweg begins with Zaha Hadid’s Hungerburg Bahn. My assistant Marcus and I woke up in Innsbruck to a depressing fog and drizzle. We needed to photograph both Hadid’s Hungerburg Bahn and Snøhetta’s Perspektivenweg, and both portions of the shoot had already been firmed up. So, we slipped into our rain clothes and set off determined to make the most of the day. Despite the poor weather, I was able to document the initial overview of the rail line as well as some perfectly moody detail shots. The weather complications allowed me to focus strictly on the form and line in Hadid’s station. The foggy view emphasises the sweeping curves and shows the contrast of the sharp lines. We are able to see the texture in the concrete forms and the soft light on the glazing and metal. The silhouette of a wandering cat adds context and a layer of life to the scene.

Riding the Rail to Perspektivenweg

Riding the rail, we were able to photograph portions of the track and the interspersed stations. The soft light and drifting fog adds a heap of mood and quietness to each image. The muted colors don’t distract our eyes, and instead, we can focus on scale and form.

Perspektivenweg's Alpine Context

When photographing alpine architecture, we are at the mercy of the weather. It can be temperamental, fast-changing, and even stubborn. The key to making successful images is to be flexible and to know how to play to the strengths of each weather and lighting condition.

As we continued up the rail line, we decided our only hope was to take the cable car over the cloud cover. On the way to the middle station of the Nordkette, we broke through the clouds and found ourselves above a sea of fog that filled the entire Inn valley. The massive fog banks ebbed and flowed, revealing faint outlines of the peaks beyond, and tiny islands of trees and slopes below. What seemed like unfortunate weather at the start was beginning to add a shroud of magic to this particular project. Looking back, the mood in this series is palpable. The rolling fog adds such a special element to these photographs.

Form and Function

When we finally landed at the trail that holds Perspektivenweg, the constant drizzle made for slippery fields of rock and a muddy meadow. The incomparable scenery though provided a sense of comfort despite the conditions.

I had my assistant Marcus step into a few of the photographs as a model. His figure gives the viewer a focal point, as well as an element of scale amongst the architecture. His bright clothing adds a layer of visual interest and adds a bit of cheer to the earthy color palate.

The Perspektivenweg’s reduced architectural style means that each element blends in with its surroundings. Peter Zöch of Snøhetta shared with me that the goal of Perspektiveweg’s design was “to make visitors aware of the special features of the alpine environment and give them the necessary security to move around in [it].”

One of the most noteworthy things about Perspektivenweg, like most alpine architecture, is its relationship to its surroundings. Zöch tells “The installations focus on the sensitive relationship between natural space and built intervention and stage-specific views and perspectives.”
The structures are made from local larch wood and untreated sheet steel. As the steel ages, a protective layer of rust forms to prevent corrosion. Zöch continues “we deliberately only set foundations where absolutely necessary, many elements are only anchored in the existing rock structure or set in the ground.”

With this in mind, my overarching goal for these photographs was to show the careful bond between connecting architecture and nature. One element, in particular, stood out to me – the metal viewing platform. By photographing this structure from a distance and from different perspectives, you can see its integration into the environment more clearly.

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

Color Control 

In post-processing I decided to subtly manipulate color to play to the monochromatic foggy mood of the day. By desaturating the yellows and greens found in the grass, the dark earthy tones stand out against the gray sea of fog that lies at our feet. As a result, the pictures radiate calm. while showing the raw, rugged nature of Innsbruck’s northern chain.

Perspektivenweg's Impact

Snøhetta’s Perspektivenweg is a textbook example of alpine architecture. It provides a place for outdoor enthusiasts to rest and look out on the beauty of the mountains. Its construction is hearty and able to withstand the demanding elements – avalanches, ice, wind, and fog banks. While it is strong, it demands little of its environment. The locally sourced materials and small footprint are kinder to the land. Difficult to access, but a beautiful sight to behold when you’re there, Perspektivenweg is an incredible testament to alpinism.

 

 

Equipment

Camera

1. Lens

Software

Canon EOS R.

Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM

Capture One 21, Adobe Photoshop CC

About the Shooting

Project Series: Modern Alpine Architecture
Style: Architectural Photography
Building: Perspektivenweg
Location: Innsbruck, Austria

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