Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Davos is full of architectural sins

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The ski season has already started. But there is hardly any snow in Davos.


It is one of the first days of the new year 2023. The view from the window of the Rhaetian Railway reveals a dreary landscape. Instead of white, the colors brown and gray dominate. The destination of the train journey is the highest city in Europe – former health resort and venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF): Davos GR. Soon the rich and powerful of the world will arrive here.

The ski season has already started. But there is no snow on the asphalt roads and flat concrete roofs of Davos. Instead, rain falls from the sky. “It’s not nice,” says resident Margarete Schüpfer (85) with a view of the city. And says what many think.

The architecture polarizes

Blick asked passers-by, including tourists and residents of Davos, for their opinion of the city’s architecture. There are two views of Davos, says Giacomo Müller* (62). «One thing is the beauty of nature. The other is the architecture. You may like it or not,» the owner of a holiday apartment puts it diplomatically. “I like it best when there’s a lot of snow,” says Uwe Schroeder-Wildberg (57), who is here on vacation.

Foreign media are clearer. The “world” dubbed the Mecca of the powerful last year as “ugly Davos”. The city, a scattered settlement stretching along the Landwasser, “made up of Gründerzeit palaces, flat roof boxes and parking lots the size of a football field”. One speaks of an urban planning catastrophe.

The Grisons architecture critic and “Hochparterre” publisher Köbi Gantenbein (67) describes Davos as follows: “The place may be successful and lively, its social and economic history impressive – but the image of the place is bad, miserable and chaotic.”

This doesn’t just mean the concrete blocks. It’s also about traffic management. The level crossings regularly block the flow of traffic through the city. In the winter season, there is traffic jam and chaos in the center every day. Day tourists come by car in winter and park in the Parsenn car park. Getting there by public transport is difficult. Davos Dorf train station is too far away from the mountain railway.

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