Embedded within the summit of Mount Kronplatz, 2,275m above sea level at the centre South Tyrol’s most popular ski resort, the Messner Mountain Museum Corones is surrounded by the alpine peaks of the Zillertal, Ortler and Dolomites. Established by renowned climber Reinhold Messner, the sixth and final Messner Mountain Museum explores the traditions, history and discipline of mountaineering.
The idea is that visitors can descend within the mountain to explore its caverns and grottos, before emerging through the mountain wall on the other side, out onto the terrace overhanging the valley far below with spectacular, panoramic views.
Reinhold Messner’s vision for a museum of submerged into the peak of Mount Kronplatz detailed three very specific locations of where the museum should emerge from ground: “In the first, a window looking out southwest to the peak of the Peitlerkofel mountain, in the second, another window should look south toward the Heiligkreuzkofel peak, in the third, a balcony should face west to the Ortler and South Tyrol.”
Informed by the shards of rock and ice of the surrounding landscape, concrete canopies have been cast in-situ and rise from the ground to protect the museum’s entrance, viewing windows and terrace.
Reflecting the lighter colours and tones of the jagged limestone peaks of the surrounding Dolomites, the exterior panels are formed from a lighter shade of glass-reinforced fibre concrete and fold within the museum to meet the darker interior panels that have the luster and colouration of anthracite found deep below the surface.
A series of staircases, like waterfalls in a mountain stream, cascade through the museum to connect the exhibition spaces and describe visitors’ circulation over three levels. At the lowest level, visitors pass the viewing windows as they traverse through the galleries to emerge out onto the terrace that projects 6m from the mountainside giving a 240 degree panorama across the Alps.
At 1,000 square meters, the museum is arranged over several levels to reduce its footprint. During construction, 4,000 cubic meters (140,000 cubic feet) of earth and rock was excavated and then replaced above and around the completed structure - immersing the museum within Mount Kronplatz and helping to maintain a more constant internal temperature. The wide windows allow natural light to penetrate deep within the museum, drawing visitors forward through the interior to the panoramic windows and viewing terrace cantilevered over the valley far below.
Photo credits: Werner Huthmacher.