DAVOS – Designed by the Munich-based Oikios office, the new InterContinental Davos Hotel is neither a throwback to the alpine village architecture, nor a functionalist, white cube, but an autonomous object, whose sheer scale creates a meaningful dialogue within the surrounding sublime landscape of the Swiss Alps.

‘It is a solitaire outside of the urban structure of Davos and we see it as a signature building,’ says Oliver Hofmeister, managing director and architect at Oikios. ‘According to the Swiss building code, the building/structure is tall enough to be considered a skyscraper, but we decided to provide an appearance without external horizontals and verticals that the eye is accustomed to looking at.’

Instead, the architects draped the oval building volume in a smooth, shimmering, champagne-coloured skin, whose with a diagonal flow and layering, recalling numerous associations, – from woven fabric and knitted sweaters to large, scaly reptiles. ‘During this design process, I kept a pine cone, which I found during one of my first visits in/to Davos, on my desk as a source of inspiration,’ Hofmeister comments on the façade’s unique geometry.

The formal complexity of the building skin meant that the architects had to collaborate closely with the engineers and the contractors to develop and construct the intricate puzzle. Even though the forms may look repetitive, each of the 791 steel spandrel panels (developed and manufactured by seele in the Czech Republic) used on the façade is in fact unique due to the underlying structure’s oval form.

‘Constant communication with all involved parties was the most important element in both design and execution; all the fields needed to stay connected,’ the architect explains. ‘An interdisciplinary design team was set up very early on, right after the outline design of the façade was determined. The individual planning processes were combined into one approach so the team was able to cooperate competently.’

Photos René Müller