The former Saanen fire station is set to become a “creative world of experiences for both locals and visitors“.
The association has been set up and the concept plans are in place. All that remains is to secure the financing. Once this has been established, the project can get underway. If everything goes to plan, the Station will open in July 2020.
With the approval of the investment loan for renovating the former fire station and a monthly waiver of CHF 960 for the operators of the Station, the municipal assembly has paved the way for a unique project.
The project was initiated by the Gstaad-Saanenland Hotel Association. Gstaad Saanenland Tourism is also involved along with Gstaad Marketing GmbH, the Gstaad-Saanenland Trade Association, the Saanen Village Organisation and Saanen Aktiv. Together, these five partner organisations have founded the association “Füür und Flamme Saanenland”.
Playroom and experiments
Ropes and cableways are the main theme of the project, starting with the cloakroom. “Jackets and coats are hoisted up on ropes to the ceiling," sais the president of the association, Christof Huber. “On the ground floor, you’ll find a machine room with an accessible machine you can walk up to and turn cranks, observe or play with it and experiment further. It’s a fascinating criss-crossing of ropes, gears, cranks and ball valves,” according to the project description.
Upstairs are ten workstations where you can make different objects. “For example, children can make a cable car, which they can hook into the cable system on the ground floor and crank it through the room,” says Huber. There’s also a laboratory where you can get involved in various ideas.
Ropes are also the focus of the outdoor area. Rope stations will be set up for the children to hang cable cars they’ve designed. The ropes garden is a place to test their skills. “The outdoor area is an unconventional playground that fits in with the concept,” explains Huber.
To ensure the children don’t get bored and want to come back, the station needs to steadily develop. “The workstations are rotated every three to six months, but we’re only going to make small changes to individual parts of the major equipment and installations such as the laboratories, walk-in machines and machinery stations,” explains Patrick Bauer, head of product management at Destination Gstaad. There are many ideas in circulation.
The station is open all year. During the high season, it’s open from 1pm to 6pm Wednesdays to Sundays and in the low season, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 6pm. The facility isn’t targeting a specific group, but the main focus is on children from 4 to 14 years. “However, the station isn’t a nursery and the children have to be accompanied and looked after by adults,” stresses Huber. “The facilities are not only aimed at visitors, but also locals. We also want to offer local families a new attraction that doesn’t rely on the outdoor weather conditions.”
Financing still open
The concept is in place and, theoretically, the project could start as soon as the building is renovated on behalf of the municipality. The biggest challenge is yet to come: “We won’t start until the financing has been secured. Also, we don’t want to take any risks,” stresses Huber.
The investment costs are estimated at several hundred thousand francs and the annual operating costs, according to the financial plan, amount to around CHF 250,000. The Gstaad-Saanenland Hotel Association has already promised CHF 195,000.
“We’re hoping to receive for money from the canton too. This would come from the pot for business promotion managed by the Office of Economic Affairs and the Lottery Fund,” explains Bauer. “We’re also considering crowd funding,” adds Huber.
Opening in July 2020
The timing is tight. Financing should be in place by December and the interior of the station converted between April and June. Then, in July 2020 the station will be all set to open.
Based on AvS/Anita Moser
Translated by Justine Hewson