Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Foster-Partners | The Murezzan | Housing Project | St Moritz, Switzerland

Located in the Upper Engadine, one of Switzerland’s most scenic valleys, St Moritz receives up to a quarter of a million visitors a year, who are attracted to the famed natural beauty and alpine pursuits. The practice designed the Murezzan Housing Development to be a complement to the unique civic environment of St Moritz, and a unified combination of contemporary and historic elements. The project resulted from a close working relationship between Norman Foster, the client AG Post und Merkatorium, and the project design team.

The Murezzan involves the complete refurbishment of two existing buildings, the Albana Hotel (1907) and Posthotel (1908), and the construction of one new building, the Chesa, to provide a mixed-use residential development which includes sixty apartments. The Foster studio researched the original plans in order to renovate the existing buildings, which had suffered a series of ill-conceived alterations. The design is inspired by vernacular tradition, with proportions and materials, such as timber, concrete, and the distinctive Sgraffito rendering, which refer to local precedent. Bay windows are used throughout to accentuate the lake views and draw inhabitants into the spectacular alpine landscape. A rich mix of ground-level retail has been reinstated to animate the buildings and engage passing pedestrians.

The Murrezan balances urban sensitivity with domestic comfort. Drawing from the hospitality industry, the Foster design combines the warmth and tradition of the family hotel with the grand hotel’s extroversion and comfort, and the designer hotel’s fashionable and informal charm. Each of the apartments is unique, reflecting the diversity of the original buildings, the demands of different lifestyles, and the sophisticated residential market. The practice’s signature contemporary interior design is allied with more traditional elements, such as fireplaces and wooden floors, which are familiar icons of an alpine lifestyle.

The buildings are linked to one another through sky bridges and an underground passage that leads to the underground parking facilities. Views have been maximised throughout. The original entrance to the Posthotel is restored, revealing lake views, and the Chesa juxtaposes retail on the northern urban side, and residential on the southern lake side. All of the apartments are fully serviced and the Murezzan development also includes a restaurant with a bar and lounge, shops, a fitness centre and associated amenities, and 130 subterranean car parks.....more
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