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Living in a mountain: a promising model for the future?

Last Saturday, the first Summer Academy of the renowned Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in London at the University of Liechtenstein came to an end. Under the title “Alpine AA”, international architecture students examined the potential of underground living spaces.

ast Saturday, the first Summer Academy of the renowned Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in London at the University of Liechtenstein came to an end. Under the title “Alpine AA”, international architecture students examined the potential of underground living spaces.



The consistently increasing population and the related increasing density of our habitats are omnipresent issues. Thus, the increasing demand for resources such as energy and food is a logical consequence. Both issues relate to the earth’s surface and have a lasting effect on the Alpine landscape. What still resembles untouched nature has already become a completely artificial landscape: underground rooms are omnipresent in the Alpine Rhine Valley. The visits to the Schollberg quarry in Trübbach, the Magletsch fort of the Swiss army in Oberschan or the building site of the Samina hydroelectric power station in Vaduz impressed all the participants of the Alpine AA Visiting School. The underground constructions gave way to kilometres of passages and cathedral-like cavities, which are hardly visible from the outside. The mountain is hollowed out in various ways; the underground working and living conditions are extremely demanding.


The Alpine AA Visiting School visits the Schollberg quarry in Trübbach

What will happen to these rooms in the future? Might they provide an alternative to the consistent development of our living spaces above ground? The students, who, among other countries, came from Siberia, Romania, the USA, Austria and Switzerland to visit the Summer Academy, devised visionary architectural solutions. Their ideas included barely visible high-rise buildings behind vertical rock faces, as well as underground transport systems, concert halls and research laboratories.


Project «Living in the mountain» by the student Angela Feldmann

The Summer Academy was supervised by a team of international researchers and practitioners with links to the Architectural Association School of Architecture: Teresa Cheung (EPFL , Lausanne), Celina Martinez-Cañavate (ETH Zurich), Maciej Woroniecki (London) and Peter Staub (University of Liechtenstein). The results were presented in the form of installations at the University of Liechtenstein last Saturday, providing insights into underground worlds.


Tour through the Magletsch fort of the Swiss army in Oberschan