Viamala Raststätte Thusis in Switzerland

In the course of an invited architectural competition for a highway service area, a proposal of the young architectural office from Grisons Iseppi-Kurath was selected as the winning project. The design of the two architects achieved to translate the theme of the "window towards the region" with a complex layout and in a consequent and exciting fashion.

The Viamala Raststätte Thusis is located next to the exit Thusis-Nord at the highway A13 in Grisons, Switzerland. The unique access of an existing highway exit, that has a connection to both sides of the highway, allows this project to service the alpine traffic from south and north alike. Therefore the service area isn’t only available for transit but also local traffic and is furthermore connected via pedestrian and cycling ways to the sporting grounds of Thusis and the neighbouring villages of Cazis, Sils i.D., Fürstenau and Fürstenaubruck. The service area is located at the southern end of the plot and offers an internal connection to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

The expressive roof of the fuel station combines the architectural prelude of the building and brings together the entrance and exit of it, along the 24-hour service area (WC, fuel pumps, telefone and bancomat). When entering the building, the customer experiences a generous entrance area. Circling the building clockwise, the customer passes by the shop for local produce and products, restaurant, bar area, take-away, tourism information and finally arrives at the shop, the register and exit area.

The cross shaped layout allows to accommodate quieter areas for conference purposes and a serviced restaurant. These areas have large-format windows opening towards and establishing connections to the Viamala canyon, Muttnerhöhe, Schin canyon and the Domleschg valley. Additionally to those great views, the wooden interior of the service area expresses warmth and cosy concealment. This atmosphere is supposed to contrast the outside appearance.

Including the fuel station, the service area has a gross volume of 8500 m3 and an underground floor below the entire building. Accessible via stairs and a freight elevator, the underground floor hosts heating, building technology, storage and staff wardrobes. The public areas like restaurant, conference room and the shop have direct access to the outside, therefore no particular fire emergency precautions were mandatory. The main load bearing elements are wood, complemented by some stiffening concrete slabs. These elements carry the interior wooden finishing and the exterior façade from metal. The building with its weatherproof and low maintenance façade from metal references through the formal design and choice of materials the surrounding landscape but also automobile technology.

The roof construction of one meter thickness, consisting of beams from laminated wood and rafters in between is not insulated and completely aerated. The insulation is installed through a suspended ceiling. The wall elements of timber frame construction where prefabricated and mounted at the construction. For the Viamala Raststätte wood was used for the construction, interior finish and for heating, employing wood pellets.

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