Swarovski Kristallwelten Wattens | CRYSTAL REPUTATION
Everyone who comes today to the small Tyrolean village of Wattens, immediately tries to understand the reason why this at first glance unremarkable place was chosen by Daniel Swarovski as the firm’s headquarters. However, it had a number of reasons: first, mountain river with a strong stream, providing enough resources to operate machinery, secondly, significant distance from the native for Swarovski Bohemia area, which was helping to avoid increasing competition level on the market and was giving security from being copied. Finally, Wattens was strategically good connected with trade routes leading into the center of the world fashion industry- Paris, where crystals were in great demand.
In October 1995, still in Wattens, surrounded by the Alps, Swarovski family, in honor of its 100 years anniversary, opens the “Swarovski Crystal Worlds” – an exhibition center, designed by multimedia artist Andre Heller. Heller proved himself as an eccentric and talented master of stenography, reconstruction of variety shows and theaters, the author of numerous prose publications, the artist. He was becoming the author of the place which, immediately after the opening, was called “the same wonderful, as one of the world’s wonder.”
Magical worlds were hidden on three underground levels. On the surface was created a huge, seventeen meters high head of the Giant with glowing eyes – crystals, hilly landscape “body” with labyrinth on top of it and crystal-clear alpine water, transformed into a waterfall flowing out from the mouth of “the treasures guardian”.
The Giant, created by Andre Heller, even has a brief but very magical biography. According to it , in order to understand better the world in all its diversity he traveled and right after it he decided to settle in Wattens bringing with him his most beloved treasures extracted from all corners of the globe to protect them.
This story, of course, has also a real analogue – famous chambers of wonder in the Ambras castle, which in the 16th century was an attempt to gather in one place a universal collection of exhibits from all areas of knowledge, known at that time.
The underground complex exposition begins with the , where you find yourself passing through the Giant’s waterfall. The space with inclined walls is painted in famous color called “International Klein Blue”, in honor of the artist Yves Klein, who created it. Here you first of all get to know crystal through such masterpieces as “The Persistence of time” by Salvador Dali, “Gems” by Andy Warhol etc.
The next ” Chamber of Wonder ” is the “mechanical theater” by artist Jim Whiting tells about high-precision machinery creation (Swarovski company is also famous in this field). Whiting showed a combination of people and technology in his work. Relations between men and women are represented in form of rigid objects that by magic come to life and begin to fly and dance in the air.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the exhibition is the underground crystal dome, designed on the basis of the geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller. Geodesic domes generally have very high level of stability, especially considering the fact that for constructing them a relatively small amount of material is needed. Swarovski Crystal dome consists of 595 mirrors, which create the depth effect and give a feeling of being inside a crystal to visitors. Nine of the 595 mirrors are so-called “spy mirrors.” They hide in themselves works of art by various artists. An interesting fact, but the Crystal dome is also very popular for weddings.
Of course to describe all the particularities of the “Giant’s underworld” would be impossible in terms of one article which actually is not bad as it is much better to see them by your own eyes. But maybe it is necessary to still mention the room, which is called “Studio Job Wunderkammer.” Company Studio Job designed the space with no corners where everything according to the designer’s idea “revolves around the international experience study.” Deliberately bright panels, shapes, compositions invite visitors to make their own discoveries. What at first glance seems to be just a set of obscure artifacts, actually tells thousands of stories and reflections on contemporary society through movement and music language.
Exhibition of the underground gallery called “Timeless ” closes up the exposition and shows in detail Swarovski company history from the very beginning to the magical moments on stage, screen, and podium. Past, present, nostalgia and glamour are showed here by the architects of the underground level – company HG Merz in collaboration with archives of Swarovski company.
Like that, Swarovski Crystal Worlds was successfully welcoming numerous visitors from all over the world during 20 years, but the company’s management decided to create a new 7.5 hectare landscape park with unique installations and buildings. The investment amount into the project was quite generous – 34 million euros.
New Crystal Worlds was open to the public on the 30th of April, 2015, and immediately became an absolute sensation in the cultural world not only in Austria but in the whole world. What was changed during the year and a half of constant work on the project?
Let’s start with the fact that the project was done by three architectural teams: Snohetta, CAO PERROT and s_o_s architekten. Snohetta was responsible for the kids playtower and the adjacent playground creation, the design of the new entrance to the Crystal Worlds store and Daniels Kristallwelten Café & Restaurant.
The renewed Swarovski Crystal Worlds was supposed to pay special attention to young visitors and to create comfortable conditions for their rest and recreation. That’s why twenty-meter high play tower with located on its four levels completely different game rooms was created. Inside it everything was organized the way that kids can safely jump, play, climb, run and so on.
The architecture of this building is absolutely unique and fully meets the spirit of the Swarovski Company. The tower’s facade consists of 160 different glass panels with a million tiny motifs applied on them which according to the architects idea are “characters associated with the history of Swarovski”. From the tower opens spectacular 360 degree view on the majestic Tyrolean landscape. This space is open to children of any age and has a complemented outdoor area, looking like a free-form structure made of steel and wood and offering an infinite number of ways to have fun. Snohetta office, known for its non-trivial approach to architecture, in this project wanted to give children an opportunity for not just enjoying well-known activities, but also to discover new games and forms of movement.
The Norwegian company, as mentioned above, was also the author of the Daniel Kristallwelten Café & Restaurant area. From the outside the building looks like a bionic form concrete pavilion, organically fitting into the surrounding landscape of the park. Renewed Swarovski Crystal Worlds has set itself the task of not only feeding the minds and feelings of visitors by its brilliant collection, but also to create a “delicious” space for true gourmets. Daniels Kristallwelten offers to everyone a taste of international cuisine, regional specialties, seasonal delights, and especially confectionery products in a chic atmosphere of gently curved architectural columns, bright surfaces, materials, inlaid with Swarovski crystals, and almost panoramic view of the park.
A third part of Snohetta work was the new entrance to the company’s previously existing store and moreover not just a long corridor to the latest jewelry and not only collection of Swarovski, but also the multimedia installation. Kilometers of glowing wires are formed in a spiral structure, making an interactive, visually expanding space boundaries tunnel.
The second-new Swarovski Crystal Worlds Store was designed by architects from s_o_s architekten specifically to bring together and offer numerous Swarovski product lines. Particularly notable in this space are dome and columns, decorated with the famous Italian Bisazza mosaic. The dome was fastly getting a name of “Starry mosaic sky.”
The second project of this brand new Swarovski crystal worlds complex – the entrance pavilion became surprisingly minimalistic, but absolutely beautiful from all points of view. Its design comes out from the CAO PERROT master plan based on the idea of the “white woods” structure. As a result, concrete roof of the pavilion having size of 1800 square meters is located just over the white birch “forest.” Here are located: souvenir shop, toilets, staff room. Three materials (glass, wood and concrete) are used in this project on purpose that it does not compete with the new “sights” of the Crystal Worlds. That’s why the entrance structure is maximum clear and simple.
The last architectural firm, which, as mentioned earlier, has been developing an updated masterplan for the complex, CAO PERROT, was also creating an impressive installation titled “Crystal cloud” in the park. It covers an area of 1,400 square meters and consists of over 800,000 Swarovski crystals in three different sizes (this was done on purpose to make clouds shinier). All crystals included in the composition of the installation were mounted by hand and now are literally floating in the air above the artificial pool which in the “magical world” was named “Mirror pool”.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds – is also a rare beauty garden, as in the “Giant’s garden” according to the company’s data more than 72,000 flower bulbs were planted. It is a place that, without any doubt, is worth to visit. It will be enjoyed by people of all ages (by the way, it is essential to underline that in the whole complex barrier-free solutions were implemented), professions and interests.
The complex was becoming, like Swarovski crystals, multi-sided, thanks to the excellent experts team who worked on its development. In addition to beautiful architecture, installations, landscape and compositions, safe and exciting playgrounds, crystals, success stories and incredible exhibitions here two very important things took place: family spirit and magic, created, however by many years of hard work.
Cover Photo: Crystal Dome | Swarovski Crystal Worlds | Photo Courtesy Swarovski