alice studio: evolver alice studio: evolver
feb 09, 2011

alice studio: evolver

‘evolver’ alice studio in zermatt, switzerland all images courtesy alice studio



alice studio, a group of students from the ecole polytechnique fédérale de lausanne has built a spiraling viewing platform in zermatt, switzerland. located on the edge of lake stelli, the ‘evolver’ enables visitors to engage with and observe the panoramic landscape in a new and responsive manner.



by  lake stelli



composed of 24 wooden frames that serve as the structural spine of the project, the design encases a continuous 720 degree route. an uninterrupted slit travels along the tubular path, providing a framed view of the site which changes according to the visitor’s vantage point. open wooden slats render the structure completely exposed to the elements, resulting in a viewing station that is holistically experiential and well-connected to its landscape.



interior view


framed view


structural detail




walk through



construction stage

physical model




schematic diagram – 360 degree panoramic path, 720 degree path with elevation

shaping concept

axonometric model


front elevation







  • Quand la mouche a pèté, elle était déjà au bord de la névrose.

    iBouc says:
  • Wasteful and irrelevant. If you are so damaged that you can’t ‘engage with and observe the panoramic landscape in a … responsive manner’ then you’re unlikely to be in the vicinity of this bunch of junk in the first place.

    JAH says:
  • love it, love it , love it

    gk says:
  • I think it is brilliant and much better that many other things we’ve seen out there. Congrats!!!

    LGF says:
  • WOW

    heedster says:
  • This is so sad and offensive in so many ways. Why do we need a structure to engage with this landscape? Could we not just move through it, turning our heads to enjoy it’s previously uncluttered beauty? Who thought it was a good idea to pollute this otherwise stunning and pristine visual experience with another manmade structure, and who allowed this to happen? Just look at the pictures! Whether or not you like this thing on it’s own, it only detracts from the experience of this place. Is it not ironic that someone cut down trees and flew the resulting lumber in with a gas guzzling helicopter in order to build this thing to supposedly help us appreciate nature?

    tod says:
  • love it! well thought out, and well executed.

    horrigan101 says:
  • @ tod.

    Well said. I 100% agree.

    Jesse says:
  • I agree completely with you tod…
    SAD!!! Open your eyes people!! do you really think the world needs us building more unnecesary stuff, and wasting more of its resources? specially on places like this?

    DKT says:
  • totally agree with tod too. this thing tries hard to compete with the beautiful surrounding – but obviously there’s nothing so beautiful like nature itself. wouldn’t mind if it would stand somewhere in a city, but there… it looks completely alienlike and disturbing.

    thomas says:
  • At least being made of wood it should burn down easily…hopefully soon!

    andimak666 says:
  • Very well said, tod.

    raffo says:
  • You guys are being a bunch of hippies. Like you would refuse to go in that thing if you were all there.

    The project is well-integrated into the site and context, clear on its function, and damn effective in being a physical marker; any hiking route you take, there will be a platform or some form of man-made ‘hurrah! you are here!’ structure to give a sense of climax and destination.

    I think the design is beautiful in its abstraction and amazingly crafted, especially given that it was constructed by a team of students.

    ricky says:
  • well said ricky

    maria says:
  • Why??

    pol says:
  • It really doesn’t fit with the landscape!! a seashell in the mountain????

    pol says:
  • I’m with Tod on this one. Ricky & Mary: Nobody’s even talking about the design itself, did you not notice that? I quite like it in fact but the design has nothing to do with the point all the ‘hippies’ are making here. It’s pretty sad if the nature and the views there aren’t enough to feed a man’s (huge) ego. I’m an architect and I’d kick it out of there in no time.

    Surfmonk says:
  • So basically, everyone would be happy if this exact same design was sitting in the middle of times square? That’s the only problem here?

    ricky says:
  • Times Square is a piece of imitated nature. There are bins, merchants of sandwiches, buildings with views, playgrounds for children, restaurants, big-wheels, Disneylands, signage, construction companies. All this can be done in wood.

    iBouc says:
  • If you have the possibility to build something in the shadow of the Matterhorn Please do that well.

    nadiali says:
  • I have no idea what the big fuss is about. Beautiful construction.

    yamazaki says:
  • From my point of view, (for whatever it’s worth) the big fuss is about the overindulgent architectural ego replete in the design community. Having studied architecture in undergrad and grad school, this unwarranted obsession with ‘control’ is what I find most disconcerting about the profession. Controlling views, controlling experiences, controlling controlling controlling. “Framing” views as if us simpletons can’t appreciate a scene without the architect’s brush painting a big square for our uncultured eyes to peer through. After all, they know what’s best for us to be looking at right?

    Is the form sculpturally intriguing? Sure. Is it at all necessary? Not at all! Just because there is space for something to be built, it doesn’t mean something SHOULD be built. If I made this journey to that serene spot to take in that amazing vista, would I want to be walking in circles, up and down ramps while trying my best to peer through the slats of wood – ultimately interrupting my “panoramic experience”? The interior images / movie make this experience appear more confining and constricting than pleasurable. Merely an interesting looking playground.

    dan says:
  • That construction looks pretty amazing!

    Sherley says:
  • And this is the way these students think they can pad their school portfolio in hopes some architectural firm will someday hire them? Are they nuts? Many firms are laying off skilled architects; so why are the schools still pumping out needy students? Such an eyesore in that scenic location is a travesty. Architects have a hard enough time these days finding support in their communities without wannabe architect/students being so irresponsible.

    formerarchitectalstudent says:
  • @dan: Spot on.

    Surfmonk says:
  • @dan @tod @jah @pol
    well said. what more to say? (but some loud rage would be appropriate too)

    nicey says:
  • @ricky
    I love it but I don’t think it integrates with the environment AT ALL – it sticks out like a sore thumb and no one has yet justified the necessity of it being there. Its beautiful and interesting but it seems to be very egoistic… drawing attention to itself and not blending in at all. And comments that question the use of resources (the helicopter) and carbon neutrality do NOT make people ‘hippies’ – they are questions of basic human responsibility that we must all consider in everything we do from now on. If this structure cant justify itself then it really is just showing off as so many people have noted. Nevertheless, this idea would be applauded if placed in a city or area of urban dereliction… then it would be seen as an attempt to bring the natural organic forms of nature and renewable resources into a man made environment and ask people to reassess they way they look at such environments.

    Finlay Cowan says:
  • I really can’t believe the response to this. It seems the negative responses fall into the camps of either – ‘it spoils the view’ and ‘we don’t need viewing platforms’.
    Landscapes are big things. So big in fact that the brain can’t physically retain or take on all of the information. Try it. think of a landscape – can you see the detail? The Chinese realised this a couple of thousand years ago and started building man-made structures in the landscape as focal reference points. This helps the brain make more sense of the landscape, detail, palette, scale etc. More than detract from the appreciation of the place, it actively enhances it.
    There is a similar problem with viewing landscapes. Most people today take photographs of a view they like. in doing so, they are merely editing the vista into manageable, or agreeable chunks. Viewing stations can do the same thing, only in real time.
    I love the design of this piece aesthetically and from an engineering perspective. However, I think a lot of the negative response has resulted from it not being in the right place. As a visual reference point it doesn’t work there. The views from the piece don’t work either. In the right location, this could be amazing.
    The failing of this piece is not because the location doesn’t need a man made structure. This location can be improved with something, but that’s just not this piece.

    steve says:
  • @steve, with the exception of the last 300 years, the human brain spent most of it’s time outside in landscapes as complex or more complex than this one. Our brains don’t need any help taking in all the information a landscape provides, especially since we eliminated all of the large predators that our brains used to have to contend with.
    Your last sentence really demonstrates the outrageous human ego that others have referred to here. I’m sorry to tell you this, but that location cannot be improved with something man made.

    tod says:
  • Isn’t there someone guarding this area of natural beauty? Where’s the conservationists here? Whose land is this that this eyesore was allowed to be built on? It’s not that beuatiful and it’s not ssaying anything important or interesting. I agree with Tod about how unnecessary this structure is and that we don’t need help viewing a landscape. This object obscures the view of and to the landscape, if anything. And I agree with Dan about architects and their egos, their need to put their stamp on the environment and the need to create large objects that everyone has to look at and can’t avoid. Pure vanity.

    Leslie Wilson-Rutterford says:
  • I agree whole heartedly with Tod. Well said, Tod! I am all for good design, but this is a blot on an otherwise beautiful landscape. It is not needed!

    Este Crafford says:
  • First when I saw this picture and I think what a beautiful place with the mountains and lake but wait…what the heck is that wooden thing sitting there and spoil the great scenery?!!?

    So, I totally agreed with Tod and all the others with Tod.

    e* says:
  • Tod, it’s only since we started building up the planet that people in the west started to look at the landscape in the way we do. To suggest it’s something we are programmed to be able to do is, sorry, simply not true. Our inability to comprehend large views is not recent evolution. It’s only in the last 200 years or so that the west have even been looking at the landscape in aesthetic terms. I know it’s hard to comprehend, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Yes it’s a beautiful view. But you know what? The world is full of beautiful views. I’m not suggesting we need to build in quality landscapes. The fact remains, visual focal points in large landscapes, if done properly, can actually help us in our aesthetic understanding of qualities.

    steve says:
  • Is this serious? One of the most beautiful places in Europe, and you honestly think one should buidld anything there? So totally unnecessary and disruptive in this wonderful landscape up there! I am certainly glad I got to see the place before the lake and view got ruined. Hope it’s not a permanent structure!!!!

    kirsten says:
  • totally agree with steve.

    armand says:

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