But when the Basel-based team were offered the chance to redesign the ageing infrastructure on central Switzerland’s iconic Klein Titlis summit, which is over 3,000 metres above sea level, they jumped at the chance.
“We didn’t have to think about taking on the project for too long,” said de Meuron during a press conference on Monday.
“We aim to combine purpose and aesthetics here,” he added.
The project involves redesign of the cable car station and the exiting antenna tower. Photo: Titlis Bergbahnen
The firm's Titlis 3020 program is expected to be six years in the making and will completely revamp infrastructure that was first installed back in 1967.
The firm’s plans for the summit include a new cable car station, the redevelopment and extension of the existing beam antenna tower – including making it open to the public – and an overhaul of the tunnel that links the tower and the cable car station.
The redeveloped tower is to feature plenty of steel and glass and will also be fitted out with a lounge, bar and restaurant, according to Swiss media reports.
If all goes to plan, the tower could be open to the public by the end of 2020 with work on the cable car station to follow.
Around a million people visit the Titlis every year, with 2,000 guests at the top of the mountain at the same time during peak periods.
The Titlis can lay claim to having the world’s first rotating cable car, the Titlis Rotair, and the Titlis Cliff Walk, which, at 3,041 metres above sea level, is the highest suspension bridge in Europe.
Construction workers during the building of the Titlis Cliff Walk. Photo: AFP
In a statement on the project, Herzog & de Meuron said a series of modifications and renovations to the current infrastructure on the Klein Titlis summit had resulted in a “architectural conglomerate” (see the video below).
“Crowds in the departure hall and unclear orientation detract from the excitement of the experience and put an undue strain on security and evacuation,” the firm said.
“Our project on the Titlis belongs to a new generation of Alpine architecture that aims to do justice to the breathtaking landscape by ensuring a corresponding architectural experience of the kind now familiar to us in our cities,” the firm said.