Smout Allen

Wks Chu Y5

Alpine City. ‘Alpine City’ reflects on the environmental crisis of mountain ecology among alpine valleys caused by climatic temperature rising. 

The approach emerged from an interest in the cartography and geo-space documentation technology developed by Swiss officials; there is significant depth of human’s sensitivity to the unknown spaces or landscape when cartographers were translating what they had seen to physical materials, such as maps and geological models. 

Initially, a thematic board game was created as precursor for the scheme to speculate the potential questions underneath the emergent botanic township; allowing players to engage with the geographic map and offer ways the players might test environmental and economic configurations; for example, the issue of critical environmental damage under mass tourism against local climate change. 

The project moves from the imaginary, to the situated. Focusing on the region of Zermatt, the crowning glory of Swiss leisure and tourism, but whose landscape of vegetation is rapidly changing in response to climate change. In response, the architecture of a new ‘Alpine City’ takes the form of mountain-form greenhouses to conserve the indigenous fauna and flora. The protective infrastructure stand as an ecological museum containing the geological and climatic genealogy of Zermatt. 

The composition and curation of the greenhouses aim to provide a world that people can become immersed in; moving through the buildings whilst surrounded by the delicacy of alpine rarities. ‘Alpine City’ serves as an architectural scale capsule containing Zermatt’s alpine climate and allows the delicacy of alpine plants to colonise, once again, the tourist area of the region.

Terra Incognita 2019