InnHub La Punt

John Hill
8. April 2019
Photo: John Hill/World-Architects

Last week World-Architects was in Cairo for the LafargeHolcim Forum, a conference series on sustainable construction hosted every three years by the LafargeHolcim Foundation. Norman Foster spoke on the first day of the three-day Forum, sharing details on a project he designed for a small village in Switzerland's Engadin valley.

Held at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the 6th LafargeHolcim Forum began with a series of keynotes, the first by Lord Foster. He spoke about a couple well-known high-budget buildings (Apple Park in California and Bloomberg Headquarters in London) but then ended with the relatively diminutive InnHub La Punt, a project being developed by Mia Engiadina for the small village of La Punt. InnHub arose from the fact 5% of La Punt's 800 residents, most of them young, recently decamped for cities. 

So Foster was asked if he could create a center that would bring people from tech industries in cities like Zurich and London to create a third kind of visitor: a "working visitor." Blending tourism and the commercial sector, the project would ideally draw people "attracted to the lifestyle that this area could offer," in the architect's words. Foster was inspired by the local vernacular architecture and tried to design something that would fit sympathetically into the historic environment. The project serve as the interaction of locals and the new visitors, with spaces for the working visitors and those run by locals, be they a butcher shop, a café, or crafts, as Foster imagines them.

Since the project requires the demolition of some buildings and a change to the village's plan, it requires a referendum. Later this month InnHub will be voted on by the community; we'll report on the outcome of that vote.

InnHub is articulated with a protective perimeter containing taller mountain-like volumes covered in local materials. The taller volumes would be the working spaces. (Image: Foster + Partners, photographed during lecture)
Foster described the outdoor space at the center of the project as "a village within a village." (Image: Foster + Partners)
The main interior space is the equivalent of the "village square." (Image: Foster + Partners)
Foster explained that InnHub's design developed out of a building completed 15 years ago in nearby St. Moritz: Chesa Futura, an apartment complex where Foster's family has their Swiss home. Described as a combination of high- and low-tech, with prefabricated elements covered with individual pieces of hand-cut larch, the building provides, it offers "a maintenance-free life for at least 100 years." (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Foster's keynote was interrupted by technical problems, but while walking down to his seat to wait for a fix to the sound system he was surrounded by students from the AUC wanting to take selfies with him. The starchitect, used to such attention, was unfazed. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

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