Viamala Raststätte Thusis by Iseppi/Kurath


Here are some photos of Viamala Raststätte Thusis, an alpine service station designed by young Swiss studio Iseppi/Kurath.

Located in Graubünden, Switzerland, the building has a wooden structure clad externally with corrugated metal.

The interior features wooden panels and includes shops, tourist information, a restaurant and bar.

See also: Little Chef by Ab Rogers Design (January 2009).

Photographs are by Thomas Drexel.

The information below is from the architects:

Viamala Raststätte, Thusis

In the course of an invited architectural competition for a highway service area, a proposal of the young architectural office from Grisons Iseppi-Kurath was selected as the winning project. The design of the two architects achieved to translate the theme of the “window towards the region” with a complex layout and in a consequent and exciting fashion.

The Viamala Raststätte Thusis is located next to the exit Thusis-Nord at the highway A13 in Grisons, Switzerland. The unique access of an existing highway exit, that has a connection to both sides of the highway, allows this project to service the alpine traffic from south and north alike.

Therefore the service area isn’t only available for transit but also local traffic and is furthermore connected via pedestrian and cycling ways to the sporting grounds of Thusis and the neighbouring villages of Cazis, Sils i.D., Fürstenau and Fürstenaubruck. The service area is located at the southern end of the plot and offers an internal connection to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

The expressive roof of the fuel station combines the architectural prelude of the building and brings together the entrance and exit of it, along the 24-hour service area (WC, fuel pumps, telefone and bancomat). When entering the building, the customer experiences a generous entrance area. Circling the building clockwise, the customer passes by the shop for local produce and products, restaurant, bar area, take-away, tourism information and finally arrives at the shop, the register and exit area.

The cross shaped layout allows to accommodate quieter areas for conference purposes and a serviced restaurant. These areas have large-format windows opening towards and establishing connections to the Viamala canyon, Muttnerhöhe, Schin canyon and the Domleschg valley.

Additionally to those great views, the wooden interior of the service area expresses warmth and cosy concealment. This atmosphere is supposed to contrast the outside appearance.

Including the fuel station, the service area has a gross volume of 8500 m3 and an underground floor below the entire building. Accessible via stairs and a freight elevator, the underground floor hosts heating, building technology, storage and staff wardrobes.

The public areas like restaurant, conference room and the shop have direct access to the outside, therefore no particular fire emergency precautions were mandatory. The main load bearing elements are wood, complemented by some stiffening concrete slabs.

These elements carry the interior wooden finishing and the exterior façade from metal. The building with its weatherproof and low maintenance façade from metal references through the formal design and choice of materials the surrounding landscape but also automobile technology.

The roof construction of one meter thickness, consisting of beams from laminated wood and rafters in between is not insulated and completely aerated. The insulation is installed through a suspended ceiling. The wall elements of timber frame construction where prefabricated and mounted at the construction. For the Viamala Raststätte wood was used for the construction, interior finish and for heating, employing woodpellets.

Project: Viamala Raststätte Thusis
Location: Viamala Raststätte Thusis, 7430 Thusis / Switzerland
Client: Viamala Raststätte Thusis AG (corporation)
Architecture: Iseppi/Kurath GmbH, Thusis
Building Engineering: Pöyry Infra AG, Chur
Wood Construction Engineering: Walter Bieler, Bonaduz


Wood for construction: laminated (composite) wood 202 m3
Slat/two-by-four scantling 124 m3
Planks (timber roofing) 1525 m2
Multi-functional boards 456 m2
Wall and ceiling finish (cover): timber 980 m2, teel 3200 kg

Construction costs (total): CHF 9.5 Million.-
Plot area: 24’000 m2
GFA: 1300 m2 groundfloor, 380 m2 basement
Building volume: 8500 m3
Price per cubic meter (BKP2, Swiss building cost indices): CHF 541.-

Posted on Tuesday March 9th 2010 at 12:18 am by Antonia Anastasiadi. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Outstanding! Well done!

  • memo

    I wonder how much time will it take before the guy who’s next in line will honk if you delay too much in shopping while your car is done with the gas pump ? Anyway nice concept for a gas station.

  • willem


  • atal

    @memo, it will take a long time, this is Switzerland!

  • Why can’t Americans ever be as conscientious about things like gas stations/rest stops anymore

  • Matthias

    @Bill, Americans = BP? Shell? Citgo? :)

    (Clinton, TN)

  • d.cloux


    on the site plan you’ll notice an extensive car park. And much like in every other service station in the world, one fills up with petrol, and then moves the car to a parking space, and go for lunch or buy some stuff. Does that make sense?!


    Haha, how fresh!

  • Antny

    Nice idea for a gas station. They aren’t going anywhere, so may as well make the best of them…

  • Point taken Matthias, but I just liked that the little rest stop took time to make some sort of design conscious of its surroundings. Wish we had a little bit more demanding of our everyday structures like that

  • JP

    concept is nice maybe the interior material is overdone.

  • champs negi

    the idea is to good …..

  • Why don’t service stations look like this in Britain? Now if where can just fit a ‘Little Chef’ somewhere….

  • Salt

    Nice project- very refreshing and another proof that sometimes and somewhere some interest in architecture beyond the academies survives.

    The “Deutsches Architecturmuseum” in Frankfurt/ M. is currently showing “The Agip Gas Station – a symbol of postwar mobility”. (Tankstelle des Wirtschaftswunders).