The compound is situated just beside a lake, high up in the swiss mountains at an altitude of about 1900 meters above the sea. The small village of Melchsee-Frutt is the top station of a skiing area, in winter only accessible by a small cable car . The crystalline building cubes mark the edge between village and lake. Hotel and apartments face the rough landscape scenery and seem to become a part of it: four monumental rocks floating on a crystalline basement, just like mountains up on a mirroring lake. Recalling Bruno Taut’s expressionistic „Alpine Architektur“ from the 1910s, the buildings are a optimistic statement of how architecture and nature can become a „fantastic“ whole.
The guest approaches the building from north, entering a welcoming courtyard. From this perspective, the four building volumes and their basement rim become sort of a crown, embracing the guest. From here on, the building does, what architecture is doing since millennia: protecting man against a wild and unexpectable nature –and from that save harbour, opening up ever new perspectives on that wild „outside“.
In this sense, the glassy basement’s entry area, restaurant, bar and lounge are a „lodge“ at its best: offering all the commodities of a wooden, chalet like interior, they open up fantastic views on lake and mountains at the same time. Wherever interior and exterior meets, natural light is flooding the rooms. While reception, bar and lounge recall the free flowing shape and space of the exterior, the restaurant is boxing the space for the sake of commodity. In the evening hours, the lounge’s great fireplace is becoming the warm hart of the hotel – and the building basement itself becomes a warm glowing torch in the dark lonesome mountain wilderness.
When the sun is gone, or on foggy and windy days, the SPA offers a different experience. Situated in the lower basement, it seems to be a strange and yet familiar world on its own. While the other public spaces have a more typical wooden chalet like interior, the wellness area recalls a natural experience: just like the outside shape of the building, the SPA’s interior seems to be a geometric interpretation of mountain caves. In fact, Melchsee-Frutt’s underworld embodies a gigantic cave system. Comparably, the SPA is a system of polygonal chambers, connected by short and narrow corridors. Starting with the intimate changing rooms, and varying on scale and light in the wooden sauna chambers, the space system finds it’s culminating in the cold bath: after a series of small, more dark rooms, the bath surprises with its large artificial top light, flooding the spacious „cave“ with a day bright light. Appendix of this experience is the hot bath and relaxing room, both opening panoramic views on the outer natural landscape.
The up-floor hotel rooms are adept on family needs. The two-room family suites combine the commodity of a suite with a variety of sleeping possibilities for up to five people. Bay windows extend the rooms towards the outside and again open views on the landscape. Here, in the intimacy of the private rooms, the dualism of architecture and nature finds its peak: standing at the window, just wearing your pyjama, watching the sunrise over the snowy mountains. Civilization and wilderness, just divided by three thin layers of glass.