Architecture

From flat roofs to a Grisons village

Architectural city of Davos

The architectural style of Davos with its famous flat roofs is a matter of taste. Either way, you are sure to be moved. By the way: Did you know that the flat roofs are not flat at all? This and other architectural highlights explained briefly.

The landscape around Davos is dotted with original timber houses constructed by the Walser, who moved from Oberwallis to the high valley of Landwasser in the 13th century. The cornerstone of the highest town in the Alps was laid at the end of the 19th century: With the rise to a world-renowned high altitude spa, the then peaceful scattered settlement of Davos experienced a construction boom. And brought forth a new architectural style.

Sanatoriums and why Davos flat roofs are not flat

The treatment of tuberculosis patients with sun and fresh air led to a unique new language of architecture. In place of small windows that kept out the cold came light-flooded rooms with wind-protection and balconies that faced the sun. In order to guard against dangerous avalanches in snow-covered Davos, the houses were covered with flat roofs.Speaking of flat roofs: In Davos, the flat roofs are not actually flat at all - but slightly inclined towards the middle, so that the melt water flows invisibly through the house through a roof gutter. Off through the middle, so to speak. Even today, a flat roof must be used for buildings in Davos.

In Davos, the flat roofs are not actually flat at all - but slightly inclined towards the middle, so that the melt water flows invisibly through the house through a roof gutter.
Conference centre as an emblem of the conference town of Davos

In additon to the flat roofs of Davos, the Davos Congress Centre is an architectural highlight. The conference centre Davos was created by renowned architects in four construction stages. The outstanding entrance was designed as an emblem of the world-renowned conference resort of Davos. A suspended, structurally spectacular honeycomb ceiling spans the new assembly hall for 1,800 participants.

A spectacular honeycomb ceiling spans the plenary hall of the Davos Congress Centre. An architectural highlight.
Pioneering Kirchner Museum and the "Golden Egg"

Starting with local building traditions such as the Davos flat roof and under specific consideration of the climatic and lighting conditions, the architects Gigon & Guyer designed four interlocked cubes for the Kirchner Museum Davos. This museum architecture is considered pioneering because it combines functionality and aesthetics, architectural intrinsic value and service with art in an exceptional way. The Hotel InterContinental is also worth seeing. It is surrounded by a bronze-coloured metal shell, which earned the hotel the nickname "Golden Egg".

The architects Gigon & Guyer designed four interlocked cubes for the Kirchner Museum Davos.
Hotel InterContinental in Davos is also known as the "Golden Egg".

Walser village of Klosters

The landscape around Davos and Klosters is dotted with constructions by the Walser, who moved here from Oberwallis in the 13th century. Klosters retained the original chalet style of the Walser in its architecture – until today.

With respect to the Walser, a cliché idea exists: "Walser, original Alemannians, would only build wooden houses. And they are individualists living in scattered settlements." What's the point of this cliché?  It is true that scattered settlements and wooden buildings can often be found in the Walser region. The single farm settlement is typical for the Walser, especially for the early settlers. In later phases, "neighbourhoods" (hamlets) and entire villages often developed from individual farmsteads. Certain individual farms have also been abandoned over time, since Walser moved to a village.

Klosters is a typical scattered Walser settlement. In Davos Walser houses are commonplace, in particular in the tributary valleys of Sertig and Monstein.
There is no typical Walser house

The environmental conditions characterised the house construction selected by the Walser. Walser houses were usually timber-built - however, it would be wrong to say that the Walser only built timber houses. There is no single "Walser house" type that one encounters everywhere, because these varied depending on the region of settlement. As such it is necessary to talk of a wide range of Walser house types, in which construction materials were used that were available in sufficient quantities in the area.

Sunniberg bridge Klosters

The 525 metre long Sunniberg bridge, with a bowed radius of 500 metres, is a late work of the great bridge builder Christian Menn. The bridge is part of the local Klosters bypass and has been acclaimed and honoured around the world.

The Sunniberg bridge is a so-called cable-stayed bridge and consists of four pillars that bow slightly outwards - a global innovation. Usually, the carriageway on a cable bridge is suspended far below the tips of the pylons, on a steep radial cable bearing. Here, it lies sixty metres high, in the upper quarter of the pillars. The unusual combination of the high-lying carriageway and flat guided cables makes the structure graceful and transparent: Merely a slender line cuts through the landscape.

The unusual combination of the high-lying carriageway and flat guided cables makes the structure graceful.
Dynamic part of the landscape

However, it is not only the view of the bridge from afar that is impressive , driving over it is also inspiring: The parallel cable harps bear the conductive carriageway. The curve creates a sense of dynamic and opens new perspectives. Despite crossing the valley, the Sunniberg bridge performs a balancing act between its subordination within the landscape and its autonomy as a symbol of structural engineering.

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