From flat roofs to a Grisons village

Architectural town of Davos

As early as the 19th century, the scattered alpine settlement of Davos had developed into an alpine metropolis with a unique construction style. The alpine flat roof, characteristic of Davos, was invented here. Former sanatoriums were restored through scrupulous architectural renovation. And with the Kirchner Museum, the highest town in Europe boasts a museum building that is considered pioneering around the world.

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.

Sanatoriums and flat roofs

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.

Conference centre as an emblem of the conference town of Davos

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 assembly hall of the Davos conference centre.
Kirchner Museum Davos
Pioneering Kirchner Museum

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.

New projects create accents

The new luxury hotel InterContinental "Stilli-Park" close to Davos lake opened in December 2013. The hotel is encased in a bronze-toned metal shell. A further project: High above Davos, the proprietors of the Schatzalp are planning a 105 metre high tower . The design by the architectural office Herzog & de Meuron is intended to avoid an over-development of the landscape and stand as a symbol of modern architecture in the Alps.

Hotel InterContinental "Stilli-Park" in Davos
The former luxury sanatorium Schatzalp.

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. Whilst the centre of Davos was in the midst of a rise to becoming a world-acclaimed high altitude spa at the end of the 19th century and developed its own architectural language, Klosters retained the original chalet style of the Walser in its architecture.

With respect to the Walser a clichéd idea exists, that "Walser - as original Alemanni - only build timber houses, whilst Romans - of Latin origins - build stone houses. Walser as individualists live in scattered settlements, whilst Romans live in enclosed villages."

Klosters (in the picture) is a typical scattered Walser settlement. In Davos Walser houses are commonplace, in particular in the tributary valleys of Sertig and Monstein.
Scattered settlements and timber houses

It is accurate to say that scattered settlements and timber houses were commonplace with the Walser. Isolated farms are typical of the Walser, in particular for the earlier settlers. In subsequent phases, such isolated farms often became "neighbourhoods" (Weiler) and entire villages eventually came into being. However, also common was for isolated farms to be relinquished and the Walser to move into villages.

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. 

Source: Walser association of Grisons

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 525 metre long Sunniberg bridge is a late work of the great bridge builder Christian Menn.
The bridge is part of the local Klosters bypass and has won medals and been honoured all around the world.
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.

Book hotel or apartment now!