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Environment / Climate change

Europe's tallest skyscraper is being built in a tiny Swiss village

Vals is a very small settlement in the Swiss Alps with a population of around 1,000 people. According to the website of 7132, a luxury hotel complex in the village, it’s also home to 1,000 sheep, and 1,000 hotel beds. And soon, it’ll be home to the tallest skyscraper in Europe.

Yep, we’re confused too. 

The tower will be 80 storeys and 381m tall – that’s 70m taller than the Shard, and 7.3m taller than the Federation Tower in Moscow, Europe’s current tallest building. It’ll be very skinny, and fitted out with mirrored windows to reflect the surrounding landscape.

Unsurprisingly, the tower will house the most luxurious hotel ever, containing 107 guest rooms (many will occupy an entire floor, so guests have a 360° panoramic view over the mountains), a spa, a library, a ballroom, a gallery and a fitness centre. The “7132 Tower” will form part of the existing 7132 resort, where prices for a double room without meals start at 590 Swiss Francs (£410). 

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 Here’s the tower, looking about as out of place as a T-1000 model terminator at a country dance: 

Click for a larger image.

The firm behind the design, Morphosis, won out against seven other architectural practices for the privilege of creating the hotel. Here’s a scale model of the area, showing the skyscraper surrounded by the 7132 resort:  

Click for a larger image.

And here’s the tower’s base, looking a bit like a spaceship:

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The designs were released late last week, and reactions so far have been, well, mixed. Oliver Wainwright wrote in the Guardian that “it’s hard to imagine a more obnoxious gesture to inflict on a sleepy spa town”, while the jurors of the design competition issued a statement claiming the firm was appointed before a final decision had been made. 

Judgement aside, the tower does seem to mark out two interesting trends: first, that the drift towards ultra-skinny skyscrapers isn’t just a result of a lack of space on city lots; and second, that this is the beginning of the end and skyscrapers are about to take over the world.

The tower should be completed by 2019, and is facing a race against time to claim its place as Europe’s tallest: a planned tower in St Petersburg would top out at over 400m.

Start saving now if you’re a fan of sheep and bizarrely placed architectural landmarks. 

All images: Morphosis. 
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