Zaha Hadid's museum in the mountain opens for business

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As with a lot of Hadid's projects, the technical feat of the construction impresses as much as the building itself(Credit: Inexhibit)

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Jutting out of the peak of Kronplatz mountain in Italy's South Tyrol region like a futuristic Bond baddie's lair, the Messner Mountain Museum Corones is classic Zaha Hadid with its curved concrete and striking glazing. Three sections exit the mountain at 2,275 m (7,463 ft) above sea level, but the greater part of the building is actually hidden from view. Here, embedded into the rock, an exhibition that promotes the traditions, history and discipline of mountaineering can be found.

Messner Mountain Museum Corones opened to the public this week after a three year build. It is the sixth and final of a series of museum buildings based around the mountainous South Tyrol region in an ambitious project by famous mountaineer and local, Reinhold Messner. Messner is rated as the first person to tackle all of the so-called "eight thousanders," or the 14 mountains with peaks over 8,000 m (26,000 ft) above sea level around the globe.

As is the case with many of Hadid's projects, the technical feat of the construction impresses as much as the completed building itself. Constructed from reinforced concrete, the museum's structure required some 4,000 cubic meters (140,000 cubic ft) of earth to be excavated (a ZHA representative told Gizmag that this was achieved with a standard digger, rather than any specialist equipment). Its walls measure between 40-50 cm (15-19 in) thick, and the roof reaches a maximum thickness of 70 cm (27 in). The huge mass of the mountain helps maintain a naturally steady temperature within.

A scaffold of steel sections featuring adjustable brackets forms the museum’s substructure, while most of the interior and exterior concrete panels were prepared on-site. The remainder were prefabricated off-site, with more complex elements made by spraying layers of high-performance fibre-concrete into a CNC-milled foam mould deriving from the architect's original 3D model.

Inside, the 1000 sq m (10,763 sq ft) museum is spread over three levels to reduce its physical footprint, and laid-out to meet Messner’s very particular vision. "In the first, a window looking out southwest the peak of the Peitlerkofel mountain; in the second, another window should look south toward the Heiligkreuzkofel peak, in the third, a balcony should face west to the Ortler and South Tyrol," specified the mountaineer. This was duly done.

The result is likened to a grotto by Hadid, and comprises multiple areas for visitors to get stuck in and explore, with large staircases linking the three levels. Expansive windows ensure natural daylight permeates deep within and offer fantastic views to visitors. The most impressive view however, is reserved for those that venture onto the terrace that cantilevers 6 m (20 ft) from the side of the mountain to offer 240 degree views of the Alps.

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