Inspired by the post and beam construction of Copper Age houses, the Museum building came into existence on the basis of a construction principle that is hardly used any more today in modern frame construction: the building is supported from the ground floor to the roof by pillars that go all the way through.
The hall construction that results from this is built into the slope and is planked on the exterior on three sides with vertical, overlapping larch boards. A wood veneer protects the building. The color of the skirts of the local women’s traditional costume was the inspiration behind the strong-in-character Bordeaux-purple color of the clapboard siding. This Bordeaux purple has also been a part of our graphic design since 2008.
The main façade on the eastern side is for the most part faced with glass. The veranda of the Museumscafé in the upper third of the façade is a later addition. Its diagonal-running glass slats continue the motif of the overlapping boards. Only here at the main façade can the two stories of the building be clearly recognized in the exterior construction. The monopitch roof of the vestibule at the entrance that is covered with cooper sheet corresponds to the form and positioning of the building roof.
The hall construction encases a ramp that winds upward in a spiral, symbolically standing for the path that Ötzi walked through the valley up to the Tisenjoch. On the third level, the visitor fictitiously reaches the discovery site of the glacier man in the nival zone. The ice-gray color of the floor here alludes to this.
With the building, simple and, at times, unconventional construction materials were used in many places. For example, the double exterior wall of the building is insulated with bark, leaves, and other natural materials.
Through its glass surfaces and with the help of mirrors, the construction, which was conceived and directed by South Tyroleans Erich Erlacher and Bernhard Oberrauch from 1998 to 2001, again and again transfers the open-air area and the surrounding landscape into the interior space. This trait of the building is especially clearly visible in the section “The Iceman in Harmony with Nature” on the second floor, as well as in the Museumscafé on the third floor which is surrounded by glass on three sides. The seating there with wrought-iron garden furniture supports the intentional blurring of the boundaries between inside and outside.
We became convinced ourselves of the fact that our building has interior similarities with the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany after our group excursion in 2007. But by their own acknowledgment, our architects were not familiar with the Mettmann project that was realized by Berlin architect Arno Brandlhuber in 1996.
Whatever the case may be, we, our visitors, and our neighbors all like the building which has repeatedly drawn the attention of national and international connoisseurs.
- BONIVENTO Maria Luisa (2006): Bio-salto nel tempo. In: Casa Naturale 1/2006. S. 148-153.