The Schnals Valley Glacier ridge is located in the Italian province of South Tyrol. It’s part of the Alps and is close to the Austrian border. It towers above a huge reservoir, surrounded by snow-covered mountains of rugged stone shaped by millenia of unforgiving weather conditions.
Besides it being a breathtaking part of an inspiring mountain range, it is also home to a 5,300 years old mummy Ötzi. It was found perfectly preserved by mountain climbers in 1991. Initially, police started a criminal investigation, since they thought he was a victim of crime. But, to their surprise they found out that Ötzi had died 3,350 – 3100 B.C. Now, it is displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.
Recently, the glacier became even more noteworthy thanks to Ötzi Peak: a viewpoint perched near the glacier’s summit, at 10,666 feet above sea level. It offers stunning views into Austria.
Network of Architecture has built the structure out of weathering steel, which was chosen to withstand the elements and reflect its surroundings aesthetically, as the material changes over time.
Not only that, but the platform has been painstakingly designed so, it only touches the ground when necessary, to add to the drama of a visit by giving the sensation of perching over the edge of the glacier.
In keeping with the thoughtfulness that has gone into the structure, the observation deck also comes with a geometric funnel that poignantly directs the eyes to the exact point Iceman Ötzi was found. At the end of it is a glass railing, which adds to a feeling of oneness with the surrounding mountains.
With Europe’s highest hotel, the Hotel Grawand close by, the idea of getting away from it all has rarely seemed more literal. A few moments spent in the will leave you feeling, as though you’re walking on air.