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Concealed inside a mountain: Messner Mountain Museum

When planning the Messner Mountain Museum Corones building – the last in a series of six museums – Reinhold Messner enlisted the help of top British architect Zaha Hadid, who has since passed away. When two greats of this magnitude come together to collaborate on a project, it is clear from the outset that the result will be something phenomenal. And since the museum was completed and opened, visitors have been in awe of its design.

Mountain museum with panoramic views of nature

The MMM Corones is dedicated to the ancient discipline of traditional mountaineering. The building is the sixth museum to be opened by Messner, a retired mountaineer and adventurer. “The museum is a reflection of my childhood – the Geisler Peaks; the central pillar on Sas dla Crusc – the toughest climb I’ve ever done – and the icy glacial mountains around Ahrntal”, says Messner, describing what awaits those who make the 2275-metre ascent to the museum. The views from the building form part of its permanent exhibition; Zaha Hadid’s design enjoys vistas in every direction of the compass.

Alpine architecture: An extraordinary and spectacular museum building

Flowing lines and curved contours were a key part of Hadid’s signature style as an architect, earning her the title of the “queen of curves”. For the three-million euro museum building, the architect designed a tunnel-like structure that flows into the mountain. Her style is flagrantly displayed throughout the open-plan design, in which each room seamlessly flows into the next with no walls or corners. Despite its location deep inside a mountain, the tunnel museum is anything but dark and forbidding: Three canopied windows extend out of the mountain, with two panoramic panes providing views of Peitlerkofel and Sas dla Crusc.

There is also a projecting balcony where visitors can step out into the open.

Hadid has managed to incorporate this unique building into the landscape in the most extraordinary way; the architecture seems to become one with the landscape. To minimise the building’s impact on its natural surroundings, most of the construction is housed underground. Along with the natural, flowing shapes of the design, the materials were also selected to harmonise with the environment. Concrete was used to clad and line the exterior and interior: It can be poured and cast in any shape and looks and feels like rock, making it the perfect choice for this mountain museum setting.

An awe-inspiring museum building

messner mountain museum
messner mountain museum
messner mountain museum

Modern building technology provides intelligent lighting

The dark-grey hues of exposed concrete in this grotto-like building are stylishly illuminated using the latest building technology. 220 lights and LED light strips set the scene for the exhibits inside the museum. Alongside around 65 traditional spotlights and 45 recessed and surface-mounted LED spotlights, the building is also fitted with around 330 metres of LED light strips that are individually dimmable. With this set-up, the lighting can be tailored to suit the exhibition and the space in which it is located – using the simple and convenient touch screen of the Gira Control 9 Client. When exhibits change or new exhibits are added, the lighting scene can be adjusted and stored remotely or on site.

The museum is also fitted with the elegant Gira E2 design line in stainless steel – which perfectly complements the exposed concrete walls.

Flexible functionality and simple controls

Behind the scenes, the latest KNX technology ensures that all of the museum’s systems and installations keep running smoothly.

The technology is controlled and networked by the Gira HomeServer, which works in conjunction with the Gira Control 9 Client to provide a full overview of the easy-to-control system. As well as providing an interface for lighting control, the touch screen also displays data on the current temperature and heating and ventilation system activity.

The call system installation matches the lighting, using products from the Gira E22 design line. The Gira wireless emergency set can be used to send out a call for help in an emergency, the details of which will be displayed on the touch screen.

Another pioneering feature of the museum is its building technology: When the museum closes, the entire building – from the lighting to the projector in the cinema room – can be turned off with one click.

The Messner Mountain Museum is a finely tuned and intricately planned masterpiece of architectural art. In this unique building, biographical history, modern technology and spectacular architecture merge to create a fascinating experience in an awe-inspiring natural setting – earning the museum a place on the shortlist for “The World Building of the Year” award.

What do you think of this innovative building? We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Messner Mountain Museum.

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