KAR - Alpine Climate Chamber, Innsbruck, Austria

KAR - Alpine Climate Chamber

The site specific alpine climate installation KAR (engl.: steep alpine bowl) refers to Hafelekarspitze (2300m), an alpine peak on the mountain ridge north of Innsbruck. The Hafelekarspitze marks the highest point in Innsbruck's municipal area. Right at the edge between city fabric and alpine wilderness, the Hafelekar forms a site of great contrast between cultural and natural realm. At the same time, it provides an important point of orientation and identification for the city. It is easily accessible from the city centre, by taking the Nordkette cable car almost right to the peak. Its architecturally famous top station features a small terrace with breathtaking views into the main alpine ridge, and the city below.

The installation KAR refers to this small panoramic terrace, and transfers it into University of Innsbruck´s International Mountain Conference. Due to its situation on the Nordkette ridge, the Kar features an extremely dynamic microclimate.

At the Austrian Architecture Days 2019 the climate installation KAR gave its visitors the opportunity to experience this dynamic space in the city centre and gather own experiences, sensations and connotations.

The dynamic conditions of the KAR comprise solar radiation, heat absorption through cold masses (glaciers /solid ice walls), air movement, air moisture / mist, light intensity and light temperature, and acoustic dampening. These parameters are constantly changing, providing the visitors with intensified experiences.
Inside, any visible spatial contour is dissolved in order to create a visual „whiteout“. The KAR intensifies certain sensations by extinguishing others, making visitors concentrate on the thermal perception of their skin, on their balance and orientation, on acoustics. The KAR is utterly ephemeral. The small glaciers inside the KAR will melt down and vanish during the days of the IMC, as all the glaciers of the Alps will do within that century we live in.

ACTIVE HOUSE – research and teaching on climate responsive building design: The institute of experimental architecture.hochbau at University of Innsbruck has established a cooperation with Transsolar KlimaEngineering since 2014, and explored architectural design and building construction as an integral process with focus on indoor and outdoor comfort and energy optimization. „Could we give up on some of our expectations on comfort, without actually loosing qualities – possibly even gaining new ones?“ The architectural research project KAR examines and points out on some of the key issues that arose within ACTIVE HOUSE. Climate responsive building design should not only focus on energy exchange with the environment, but also vibrancy and sensuality.

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