Gstaad has hosted the ‘Menuhin Festival’ and ‘Sommets Musicaux’ for decades. Reflecting the great international prestige of these festivals, future musical events are to be held in a new cultural center with a spacious concert hall, centrally located next to the station. This center will also house exhibition spaces and a restaurant.
The architectural and urban planning concept underpinning the design is inspired by the notion of a building that is imbued with a sense of the celebratory, yet at the same time is part of everyday life. The center’s architecture features cosmopolitan touches, while remaining rooted in the local context and regional traditions. The large building on a sloping site responds to the square in front of the train station and the adjacent smaller built structures by means of a moderately proportioned wing that extends over the tracks in an open, welcoming gesture.
The roof, incorporating a variety of angles and different shapes, structures the building rhythmically and strikes a balance between expressive and traditional roof pitches. Above the exhibition space and the foyer, skylights are created by folds and bends in the roof. These convolutions settle into a more tranquil configuration over the concert hall and project outward to provide cover over the platforms and the smaller entrance volume on Bahnhofsplatz. Here, a wide stairway by the entrance provides access to the restaurant on the upper floor, which offers a view over the square. From this area the generously proportioned foyer leads into the concert hall and the exhibition spaces. Mineral materials were selected for the surfaces of the foyer and the museum area in the eastern part of the building. The rooms here have varied proportions and receive natural light via high shed roof elements or side windows. A circular path through the building leads down from the upper floor and back up again.
The design for the concert hall is based on a cuboid form. The finely modeled contours of its wooden paneling create a dense mesh of reflecting surfaces, producing rich, well-balanced acoustics. The visual impression in the concert hall is of a bright, warm, wooden space. Metallic particles - gold brass, nickel silver, and copper - shimmer in the pores of the wood, for the concert hall is interpreted as a massive spatial ‘instrument’: a space that captures and reflects sounds and therefore ‘shines forth’ in the materiality of wooden and metal musical instruments.
Two independent structures are utilized in the concert hall to ensure acoustic decoupling. The load-bearing structure is executed with concrete and steel girders, essential for the large spans and the varying configurations of the roof above the center’s various spaces. The shell of the building, which is composed of copper sheets, functions as cladding for the roofs and façades, while at the same time forming a Faraday cage to protect against electromagnetic interference from the nearby railway. In addition, the copper’s brown hue echoes the color palette of the traditional wooden buildings and integrates the contemporary structure into Gstaad’s townscape.