Last month, Bentley invited Sleek on a very special trip to the small Alpine town of Kitzbühel in Austria’s beautiful Tyrol region to enjoy its spectacular ski resort and a first drive of the brand new Bentayga V8, the latest addition to the luxury SUV collection. Presented with a vehicle that combines a perfectly refined exterior with an unrivalled performance, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to take to the winding mountain roads. On the way, we took in some of the many feats of contemporary architecture for which the area — along with the nearby South Tyrol region — is celebrated. Below we’ve picked five of our favourites for you to feast your eyes upon, spanning Zaha Hadid’s mesmerising Messner Mountain Museum, a futuristic location from James Bond film “Spectre” which happily doubles as a gourmet restaurant, and the most otherworldly community centre you’ll likely ever see.
Winter Festival Hall, Tyrol
When in Tyrol, a visit to the striking Winter Festival Hall by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects is a must. The faceted black building juts out from the rocky landscape that surrounds it as a single monolithic structure, at once harmonious and striking. It sits alongside Tyrol’s Summer Festival Hall (known as the Passionsspielhaus), an elegantly curved white structure constructed in the 1950s, which serves as a purposeful contrast. In the area’s verdant summers, it is the Passionsspielhaus that catches the eye, its bright exterior silhouetted against the surrounding forestscape. In the winter, however, the thick covering of snow that engulfs the region renders the building almost invisible, allowing the Winter Festival Hall its designated time to shine, aided by the strips of glazing embedded into its angular folds, which allows light to blaze from the dazzling white foyer and warm, timber-lined auditorium.
Mirror Houses, Bolzano
On the outskirts of South Tyrol’s vibrant capital, nestled among apple orchards and overlooked by the magnificent, snow-capped Dolomites, is one of the region’s most beguiling architectural feats: a pair of Mirror Houses by Zaha Hadid-trained architect Peter Pichler. What’s more, they’re available to rent. The idea for the stunning structures stemmed from the client’s wish to create architecturally unique holiday homes that wouldn’t detract from the natural beauty of their surroundings, or clash with the 1960s farmhouse next door in which the owners themselves reside. The solution? Mirrored paneling on the west facades of the adjoined cubic structures, so that the lush garden they overlook (including an aquamarine swimming pool) and the mountainous landscape beyond are reflected on its exterior. The front sides of the houses are predominantly made of glass to allow for maximum enjoyment of the idyllic mountainscape, with cantilevered wooden terraces to sit on in the sunshine.
Restaurant Ice Q, Sölden
If you’re looking to eat delicious food and sip warming red wine in the most futuristic of settings, look no further than the Ice Q restaurant in Sölden by architect Johann Obermose. Venturing to this extraordinary glass structure – which resembles blocks of ice stacked like Lego bricks – requires a ride to the top terminal of the Gaislachkogelbahn cable car, 3,048 metres above sea level. You are rewarded in your quest by the chance to dine suspended over the mountain tops, courtesy of the building’s panorama terrace, offering one of the best vistas in Tyrol. For James Bond fanatics, there’s an extra perk – the dining spot was a location for Sam Mendes’ “Spectre”, transformed into the ultramodern hospital where Christoph Waltz’s baddie hatched his sinister plans.
Community Centre, Abfaltersbach
Community Centre. Image: Courtesy of Machne Architekten.
A village community centre may not sound like an exciting architectural prospect, but architecture firm Machné Architekten in Abfaltersbach managed to create the most intriguing example we’ve seen. The tripartite centre — comprising the town hall, a music centre and offices for the local fire department — was designed to appear as if three boulders had been tossed among the village’s otherwise highly traditional Austrian architecture. But the faceted buildings with their myriad triangular windows could just as easily be confused with UFOs recently arrived from the depths of outer space. Inside, the auditorium and music rehearsal rooms are polygonal, to allow for optimum acoustics. We imagine the angular walls of the office and town hall spaces, combined with the scattered windows offering scenic views, make for particularly enjoyable meetings.
Messner Mountain Museum on Kronplatz
For the sixth and final of his celebrated mountain-top museums, climbing legend Reinhold Messner – the first mountaineer to ascend all 14 of the world’s mountains over 8,000 metres above sea level, and to reach Mount Everest’s summit without supplementary oxygen – enlisted the late, great Zaha Hadid to work her magic. His vision was to build a structure that would serve to showcase personal paraphernalia and tools to tell the story of Messner’s career. Hadid rose to the occasion sublimely, with a structure embedded into the alpine peak of Mount Kronplatz in South Tyrol. The curvaceous building, rendered in pale pebble-grey concrete, is entered through a pointed glass canopy. Visitors promptly descend down winding slopes and stairways into the cavernous interior to explore its display of curiosities. Breathtaking viewing opportunities come courtesy of three rock-like volumes that jut from the museum’s grassy peak, comprising two windowed canopies and a spectacular viewing platform that overlooks the Ortler range.
We hope you enjoyed our whirlwind architectural tour in Tyrol and South Tyrol as much as we did. We’d like to extend a warm thank you to Bentley and our very elegant metallic blue Bentayga V8, the bold contemporary style of which meant we felt right at home among these beacons of modern architecture.