Galleria Alpina – Exhibition Concept for the Re-use of the Porta Alpina Tunnels

Client: Heller Enterprises
Location: Sedrun, Switzerland
Date: 2010

The recently completed 57 km Gotthard Base Tunnel is now the longest railway tunnel in the world, radically reorienting Switzerland and its ties to Europe. A relic of this technical wonder is the remains of a drilling station whose shaft leads some 800m below the surface of the village of Sedrun. At only 500m above sea level, this is the lowest point in the core of the Alps, and with humidity and unconditioned temperatures up to 40° C, it recalls exotic places and tropical climates.

Contrary to first impressions, the tunnel system is not an inert artifact, but closer to an ecosystem that breathes, sweats, and ages. Sensual Lab thus proposes an artificial re-naturalization by scientific means. It creates a hyper-natural library of biomes from selected environments at 500m around the world, making tangible the invisible connections between these locations. As both an information and research-driven facility, it provides varied atmospheres to intrigue, inform, and inspire as visitors explore chambers containing pools, fungi, mud, light, algae, and sound all affected by and in harmony with the force of the nearby trains.

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