Project Timmelsjoch Experience  Location Hochgurgl, Österreich  Architect  Werner Tscholl  Finished 2010

The Timmelsjoch Experience is a sculptural addition to my series on Modern Alpine Architecture. It is a collection of six museum sculpture stations that span the Timmelsjoch Pass. The Timmelsjoch sculptures are iconic examples of alpine architecture. Their fascinating connection to the mountainous surroundings is unparalleled. Each structure seems to be part of the terrain it sits upon. As you travel from Austria, you reach the sculptures one by one, starting at the Steg. Next you come to the Schmuggler, Transit, Passmusem, Fernrohr, and lastly the Granat sculpture.

As with photographing all alpine architecture, we were at the mercy of the weather. When my assistant and I arrived at the Timmelsjoch, we were met with heavy rain. We used this to our advantage and loved the mood the dramatic sky brought to the images of the Steg, Schmuggler, and Fenrohr. We started the next morning at blue hour to take some gorgeous photos of the Fenrohr.

My biggest concern was the photos of the Passmusem, which I considered to be the crown jewel of this project. It is at the highest point of the Timmelsjochstrasse, and was covered in a sea of fog.


A Freezing Night Under Alpine Stars

I had originally planned for a night shot of the Passmusem, so my assistant and I decided to sleep right next to the museum, getting up every now and then to assess the weather and take more shots at the right time (such as I did for my Arche Nebra project). I waited four hours, trying not to freeze to death in the 70 km / h wind and icy 4 ° C weather. My desire for the perfect picture of Passmusem kept me from giving up. Every half hour, the cloud cover opened for just a minute, allowing me to capture the deep night sky of the Alps. The stars seemed to be endless over the Passmusem. To keep the building from disappearing into the darkness, I used weatherproof LED lights to accent the walls, giving a sense of three-dimensionality to the museum.

An Atmospheric Day at the Passmusem

After a short night, the sun greeted us through a semi-transparent layer of cloud. The deep sunbeams bathed the clouds in a deep orange, so that the clouds of mist looked like streams of lava pouring down the mountain. The amount of atmosphere and mood this created for the photos of Passmusem was incredible. The sculpture appears as a mysterious and otherworldly being shrouded in warm fog. The photographs show the strange and mystical nature of the alpine landscape that Passmusem calls its home.


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Welcome to the Transit sculpture

With the photos of the Passmusem finished, we moved along to the Transit building. The dense glowing fog was still present, shrouding the building in that same fire-like mist. The weather helped me portray the Transit as a welcoming shelter for travelers. With the fog omitting much of the surrounding landscape, the photographs feel close and intimate. Our attention rests on the form of the building.

Line and Form

My photographs of the Transit portion of the Timmelsjoch Experience feel quiet and warm. The monochromatic color palette support this mood. The viewers’ eyes are not distracted by extraneous information, but can rest on the line and form of this structure. Context like the rocky outcroppings and silvers of the road are still present, without being overpowering.


Photographing the Granat Sculpture

The Granat structure is a bit different from the rest of the buildings in the Timmelsjoch Experience. It consists of two volumes, both modeled after Garnets. The exhibition room appears as a natural, unpolished geological garnet. The other volume appears more abstract. It is a polished garnet jewel that suspends visitors over a view of the Passier Valley and the Moos. It was my goal to showcase the way the garnet suspends over the valley while still connecting visitors to the earth.


Moody Weather at the Steg

At the beginning of this journey, I mentioned that we were met by much rain on our first day photographing the Timmelsjoch Experince. We harnessed the bad weather to offset the moody sky from the Steg sculpture. The Steg sits outside the Timmelsjoch Crosspoint which houses the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum. The Steg seems to playfully imitate the shape of the Crosspoint, jutting out over the landscape. The Steg allows visitors to overlook the Ötztal mountains. I was thrilled to be able to showcase this station and its relation to the beautiful peaks and valleys beyond.


Portraying the Schmuggler

As you continue to travel the Timmelsjochstrasse, journeying through the mist, you arrive at a peculiar sculpture. The Schmuggler is a cubeoid structure that you can enter through a man-shaped cutout. Inside the structure, you learn about the dangers that smugglers faces while transporting contraband through the dangerous alpine landscape. My goal with these images was to portray the cube itself in the harsh landscape. The sheer rocky mountainside shrouded in heavy fog helped contribute to this idea.

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


Mood and Context

The Fernrohr station also photographed wonderfully amid the bad weather. The “telescope” offers sweeping views of galciers, valleys, and breathtaking mountains. I loved being able to document this structure with pleant of context, showing off the two volumes perched on a crest of the mountainside. Having the clouded sky behind the structure created emphasis and draws our attention to the shape of the sculpture.


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Silhouettes for Emphasis

Once inside the telescopic structure, your attention is on only one thing: the view. Allowing the structure itself to fall dark in these photographs frames the panoramic view of the Texel Group Nature Park and Passeier Valley. This reductive approach to architecture photography helps express exactly what the purpose and intention of the structure is for. We are aware of the structure without being overwhelmed by it. The photographs allow us to experience being at Fernrohr without actually having to be present.

A Rewarding Experience Like No Other

Photographing all six stations of the Timmelsjoch Experience was an adventure like no other. At the mercy of the weather, my assistant and I traveled the Timmelsjochstrasse using our time efficiently and photographing each sculpture in the way that would represent it best. We slept out in the freezing cold, spent long days and nights climbing the craggy cliffside, and hauled around heavy camera gear to make this project possible.At the end of the journey we walked away with an unforgettable experience among the finest alpine architecture, and with a series of photographs I love dearly.



1. Lens

2. Lens

3. Lens

4. Lens






Canon EOS R

Canon TS-E 24mm F/3.5 L II

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

Canon TS-E 50mm F/2.8L MACRO

Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8 L II USM

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Profoto B10

Profoto Umbrella  MDeep Translucent

Feisol CT-3441T Rapid

Capture One 21, Adobe Photoshop CC

About the shooting

Project Series: Modern Alpine Architecture
Style: Architectural Photography
Building: Timmelsjoch Experience 
Location: Hochgurgl, Österreich

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

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