A FIRESTATION CARVED IN THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN

by Miryam Muller in


The Im Fels is a volunteer fire station in the Italian Alps designed by Bermeister Wolf. The station is embedded into the base of a 300-foot cliff that overlooks tilled land.

The decision to build the structure into the rock was the community’s own, which sought to minimize the loss of valuable agricultural land in the area. With the help of explosives, three giant rooms were excavated out of the rock face, two of which were programmed as garages, with the third accommodating the main facilities, encased in a glass volume that projects beyond the rock and the facade.

The interiors were finished in wood and steel, while the natural insulation of the granite foundation helps keep the cavernous rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The triple-insulated glazing helps regulate the temperature of the main house, keeping them constant. The dark facade, meant to evoke the color and texture of charred wood, was made using a composite of concrete and beech coal dust. The slight bowing of facade is not only an expressive flourish, but is actually functional, designed to protect against the threat of falling rocks.