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Andermatt Swiss Alps

Building during winter in Andermatt

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The construction works at Andermatt are continuing even through the winter temperatures. The only requirement for this is that the building envelope be closed; meaning the roof is watertight and the doors and windows are in place. When this is the case, the interior work can continue regardless of the weather. Or almost, anyway – because of course it mustn’t be too cold. Thomas Balzli, project manager on the construction site of The Chedi Residences, recently took us on a guided tour. The first thing you notice when you enter the construction site is the metre-high white walls. During the cold winter months, when temperatures can drop as low as minus 20 degrees, the buildings are wrapped in white plastic sheeting. Perfect protection against weather and cold for the façade crews, who work daily from the scaffolding and are now primarily setting stone. “Large construction-site heaters blow warm air into the space between the façade and the sheeting. This allows the works to progress with no risk of freezing, and it also serves to keep the interiors of the buildings warm enough. This type of space heater or similar ones are also commonly used to heat large tents at special events,” explained Thomas Balzli.

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The workman operating the mortar mixer outside is warmly dressed. With cement, sand and water, he prepares mortar for subflooring for his fellow workers inside the building. The mortar is pumped into the various rooms of the building by means of a long hose.

And so when you enter the building it smells like fresh concrete. One thing is for sure: We are definitely on an active construction site. Upon entering the first room, we hear a friendly “Hello Herr Balzli” coming from the corner. A construction superintendent from the Consonni company greets us and reports on the current status of the works. His team is currently putting up framed partition walls, fastened directly to the subflooring. “These people turn raw space as large as a gymnasium into comfortable apartments,” tells Balzli with a smile. A bright light blinds us from the other side of the room. Plumbers and electricians are installing pipes and conduit before the frame walls are clad with gypsum board.

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In the building across from us, meters and meters of red piping are being laid on the floors, in a circular pattern. This is for the under-floor heating, which will provide cosy warmth in the apartments next winter. The heating pipes are not being laid everywhere. Certain areas of the floor are marked that must be kept free from piping. “The marked areas are where kitchen appliances or a bathtub will be screwed down. These locations can also be identified by the plumbing pipes.”

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With the subfloor with integrated heating and the partition walls, the standard part of the interior construction will soon be completed. Then the interior works will move into the main phase. Thomas Balzli explains: “Once the standard interior construction is complete, the finishing work begins, including all the particular wishes of the client.” For this work he receives support from his colleague Philipp Eigenmann and from the head architect Beat Jäggi.

There’s still more to do on the building envelope: Following completion of the façades, the next milestone will be to finish the roof from the inside. However, this must wait for the snow to melt. As soon as the temperature permits – probably mid-May – this work will be undertaken. And then hopefully no more heating will be required.

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