Location Obereggen, South Tyrol, Italy Architect Peter Pichler & Pavol Mikolajcak Finished 2016

The Oberholz restaurant is designed as a modern take on the classic South Tyrol mountain hut. The interior is centered around a reimagined conventional “Stube” that flows out into three individual guest rooms – or “pockets.” This flowing organic shape, and the masterful carpentry work throughout the space, create an intimate atmosphere in which hikers and diners can feel enveloped in the calm, protective shelter. Each of the three nodes features a giant wall of glazing that looks out across the mountains. My goal while photographing the Oberholz hut was to showcase the expert craftsmanship of the woodwork and take the viewer on a journey of the senses. It is my hope that the viewer of this series is able to place themselves in the scene and feel as if they have pulled up a chair, and are sipping cocoa while looking out across the panoramic view of the Dolomites.

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

Showcasing Craftsmanship

My primary task was to create a series of photographs that emphasized the incredible craftsmanship of the Oberholz alpine hut. The interior features a great deal of wood, and my main focus was on the curvilinear spruce bones of the structure. Careful compositions show how they sweep and melt into one other, ending in warm, intimate niches for visitors to relax in.

Intimate Details

To contribute to the air of intimacy and help the viewer place themselves in the scenes at Oberholz, I supplemented my more encompassing photographs with a series of tighter, more detail-oriented vignettes. While they aren’t hero shots they are quiet, contemplative scenes that help viewers note the finer details of the project. For example, look at the way a brief moment of sunlight adds warmth to the table, and accentuates the shape and line found in the spruce ribs throughout.

The Three-Headed Dragon

It is said that the Oberholz restaurant is designed to look like a tree branching out from the landscape. When I saw its three cantilevered volumes though, it reminded me of the back of a three-headed dragon that merges into the vastness of the clouds. To show this idea, I made a series of compositions from the roof of the restaurant, allowing the viewer to see down the “spines” of larch wood slates, ending their gaze on the sky beyond.

Photographing Oberholz Complex Exterior

Unlike some of my other Modern Alpine Architecture subjects, the Obereggen restaurant was quite easy to get to. My assistant Marcus and I parked our car at the Oberholz cable car station. We decided against taking a gondola up to the Obereggen hut though, and opted for a two-hour hike through the heart of the Dolomites. We wanted to absorb the feeling that hikers would experience when they finally reach the Obereggen restaurant after an assent. As we trekked through a stiff breeze and light drizzle, we finally saw the Obereggen’s three cantilevered volumes growing out of the slope they call home at 2000m. Looking at Oberholz, I knew it would be important to create a mix of photographs that shared both its relation to the expansive environment, as well as a closer look at the mix of materials and finer details. The result is a powerful combination of photographs that tell Oberholz’s story nicely.

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

I had two main objectives during post-processing this project. The first was to account for the vast dynamic range in the majority of the photographs, as seen here. With a fortunate break in the clouds and a swath of hard sunlight streaming in on the tables and concrete chairs, blending a series of exposures was important to make sure no highlights were too bright, and no shadows were too deep. The result is a true to life recounting of what it is like to be at Restaurant Oberholz. My second objective was to represent the accurate colors found in the space. As you can see in the original RAW file, the colors are a bit muddy and green. By nuturalizing unsightly color casts and making subtle, careful adjustments, the final image has a much more pleasant, warm, inviting mood. 

Restaurant Oberholz is an Iconic Mountain Hut

Oberholz is a textbook example of Modern Alpine Architecture. It is an iconic structure, made from local, natural materials, and is a shelter for alpinists. Its design is an updated, reimagined take on a classic alpine hut, one built with extreme attention to details and expert craftsmanship. While the shoot day threw me plenty of curves, like Oberholz closing early due to bad weather, it still was a joy to shoot this structure and make a series of photographs telling its story!

 

Equipment

Camera

1. Lens

2. Lens

3. Lens

Drone

Tripod

Software

Canon EOS R

Canon TS-E 24mm F/3.5 L II

Canon TS-E 50mm F/2.8L MACRO

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

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Feisol CT-3441T Rapid

Capture One 21, Adobe Photoshop CC

About the shooting

Project Series: Modern Alpine Architecture
Style: Architectural Photography
Building: Restaurant Oberholz
Location: Obereggen, South Tyrol, Italy

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