Restaurant Botta: The creation returns to its master

  07.08.2023 Local News, Skiing, Architecture, Glacier 3000

After the devastating fire that razed the Glacier 3000 restaurant last September, the time has come for its rebirth. Swiss architect Mario Botta, renowned for his innovative designs, will spearhead the reconstruction project set to commence this summer. The revamped building will prioritise an enhanced client experience and incorporate advanced fire safety measures.

Since April, workers have diligently dismantled the surviving metal structure and cleared the concrete foundation at the top of Glacier 3000. “We are almost done with this initial phase, and we can begin reconstruction work in the coming days,” says Bernhard Tschannen, the company’s CEO. While the building’s exterior will retain its familiar appearance to fulfil planning requirements, the interior space has undergone a complete redesign. Each floor has expanded by an additional 35 square meters, allowing for more spacious and luminous dimensions. New panoramic windows grace the corners, offering breathtaking views. In collaboration with the Etablissement cantonal d’assurance (ECA) in the canton of Vaud, fire safety has been thoroughly reviewed, resulting in the installation of a state-of-theart fire extinguishing system and additional fire escapes on the southwest side.

Smooth operations
A captivating addition to the reconstruction is the introduction of a panoramic terrace. Starting from the summer of 2024, the revitalised restaurant will provide a warm and inviting atmosphere with a total of 400 seats spread across two floors. The establishments will be completely separated, ensuring an intimate dining experience. An up-to-date innovation awaits patrons of the “Le 3” restaurant (formerly a self-service venue): the introduction of QR code ordering, payment, and food served directly at the table. Bernhard Tschannen declares, “Gone are the days of queuing with trays in ski boots. We aim to maintain fast service while enhancing the overall quality of the client experience.” Moreover, a breathtaking 250-square-meter panoramic terrace will grace the rooftop, elevating guests 25 meters above the ground to relish uninterrupted vistas of the iconic suspension bridge, the Matterhorn, and 24 majestic peaks surpassing 4000 meters.

Energy efficiency in focus
The reconstructed Glacier 3000 restaurant will embody exceptional energy efficiency. As the Alps witness a surge in solar power plant initiatives, Glacier 3000 seeks to optimise existing infrastructure without expanding its footprint. The restaurant’s reconstruction plan incorporates 600 solar panels on the southwest facade and side eaves. These panels will generate up to 110 KW of power, meeting a substantial portion of the establishment’s energy requirements and accounting for up to 6% of the company’s total annual consumption. Furthermore, the heat expelled by the kitchen’s ventilation system and walk-in coolers will be harnessed to produce hot water. Additionally, meticulous design attention has been devoted to perimeter insulation to minimise heat loss, a crucial factor at the altitude of 3,000 meters.

Completing this extraordinary architectural endeavour, Mario Botta, despite withdrawing from the initial project in 2000 due to disagreements with previous developers, enthusiastically participated in the restaurant’s revival. Botta emphasises his desire to revitalise the building’s appearance by imbuing it with an even more robust and resilient character, thus strengthening the iconic image of the Devil’s Fork that has defined the location’s identity over the past two decades. Following in the footsteps of other remarkable mountain tourist buildings, such as the “Fiore di pietra” on Monte Generoso in 2017, the reconstruction of the Glacier 3000 restaurant stands as a distinctive project in the illustrious career of Ticino artist Mario Botta, who celebrated his 80th birthday in April.

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