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Andermatt Swiss Alps

Plans from Armenia for Andermatt

“An architect not only must be creative and be able to draw well, above all he needs strong nerves and perseverance,” says Max Germann, architect and partner at Germann & Achermann AG in Altdorf. He is currently working intensively on the planning of the second hotel to be built in Andermatt. When asked how the planning is going, he takes a deep breath: “That can’t be answered with just a sentence or two. It’s a process with many players who must learn to collaborate as a tight-knit team. And that can take several years.” At the start, a simple model is created of the building within the context of its environment. Even at this stage, the architect thinks about who else must be brought into the team. “A construction project is always a team effort. The members range from the structural engineer, who is the specialist for handling potential risks, to the various permit authorities to the tradespeople who work on the site. The better the architect can orchestrate this collaboration, the greater the certainty that he can realise his ideas, and the smoother the construction process will be.”

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But before the first power shovel arrives on the construction site, many detailed plans must be drawn. “For The Chedi Andermatt hotel, for example, we drew ​​nearly 5,000 plans. For the new hotel it will be around 2,500.” To draw these execution plans, the architect must have a broad range of information on hand. “We are already in touch with the interior designer of the new hotel. We need to know where the air will be fed into the rooms. This will determine the duct placement and have an effect on the framing and possibly on the foundation.” Preparation for the project includes not only the plans but also acquisition of all the necessary permits. “In other words, there may be another 200 people or so in the picture – all of whom have their requirements for specific conditions that must be fulfilled.” Many hurdles and challenges are encountered on the way from concept to finished hotel. “That’s why creativity per se is not the requirement, but rather the skilful handling of all the criteria.”

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Not all the plans for the new hotel in Andermatt are being drafted in Altdorf. The architectural firm is having some of the plans drawn in Armenia. This joint venture is not for cost reasons. Nearly 15 years ago, an Armenian architect spent a three-month internship at Germann & Achermann. The contact was maintained after he returned to Armenia, where the young man opened a very successful architectural practice in Yerevan in a chic office next to the opera house. And thus – thanks also to today’s possibility of easy electronic exchange of information and plans – a fruitful collaboration evolved. Regular personal exchange has also arisen. Here, the learning process has two ends: Employees from Altdorf travel to Armenia every so often, and young Armenian architects come to Altdorf for three-month internships. Max Germann is pleased: “With the know-how they have gained from us and elsewhere, they have become specialists for constructing buildings to western standards.”

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