The location of a museum – especially in a tourist destination like Zermatt – is a crucial factor for its success. There will always be people who visit a museum. But the interest of the masses is only awakened when an object makes them approach by its interesting sight.
Our proposal for a new Alpine Museum ZERMATT would like to start exactly at this point.
Normally, a casino and its flair alone awakes enough interest to go in just out of curiosity. But despite a striking entrance the former Casino Zermatt failed to lure people into the great hall of the first basement. Today you can attribute this to the lack of desire to play, but certainly the failure cannot be based solely on this fact.
Rather, I see the weakness in the position of the entrance. This is far from the main stream of passers by on the Bahnhofstrasse. And neither an unusual architectural design or a striking charisma can evoke any emotions in the passersby.
In this project, the Alpine Museum ZERMATT should be the center of our village next to the church.
So far, the center of Zermatt constitutes of the church square with its church, as well as the “PRATO BORNI” fountain (Sandoz marmot fountain). This place is at the far end of the Bahnhofstrasse, and you can observe daily hundreds of times, people getting photographed in front of this fountain.
Apparently people have the instinct to capture their memories in a special place.
Exactly this Fountain should be entrance into the “deeper knowledge” of our village.
This fountain is to let us dive into the past. Architecture and symbolism can and will act wonderfully together and get realized: The fountain remains, but right behind it is the entrance ramp!
The story behind it.
Around the turn of the millennium a casino was been built in Zermatt in a prime underground location in an area belonging to the civic community of Zermatt. After realising that the casino was not financially profitable, the civic community decided to re-use this space.
First of all, the large main entrance on the Bahnhofstrasse was rented out to a Swiss bank. Thus, the underground facility had no proper access any more.
At a meeting of the Burgergemeinde, Heinz Julen suggested to the citizens of Zermatt, to build an Alpine Museum in the basement. Spontaneously the Citizens President called on Heinz Julen to develop a project proposal free of charge for the community.
He developed a project that takes visitors on a spiral ramp from the church yard down to the museum. A rather inconspicuous Rotunda commanding the unique view of the Matterhorn, which can not be seen when standing at the large church square. Large open spaces would be created around the rotunda, which could get used for major events. The rotunda in turn would have served in this case as a stage.
After submitting this idea, the civic community decided on a public competition in which Heinz Julen could also participate. The civic community and the board of trustees of the museum decided in the end to provide access through a glass pyramid which was designed by a local architect who worked for the civic community as their in house architect.
Heinz Julen as well as some of the supporters of his Museum Entrance idea saw this idea as politically undermined and demanded a repeated treatment before Citizens Assembly. This happened and after showcasing both projects a verbal vote followed. The united Citizens Assemby decided in favor of the glass pyramid.