Words by Sam Haddad
When you think of a quintessential ski resort, you probably picture chalets with triangular roofs, tidy wooden panelling, perhaps some shutters, a stone chimney, maybe even a church with a steeple. Chocolate box-style. Though I’ve never seen such a scene on a box of chocolates anywhere I’ve ever shopped.
These resorts are meant to be the dream. The places we all aspire to take our snows holidays to or if we’re mega-rich buy a bolthole in. And, while I get the cuteness appeal, especially when covered in pillow-like snow, it can also feel like a dated backward-looking aesthetic, one that doesn’t always match the majesty of a mountain backdrop.
“He brought cubes, raw milky grey concrete, hard lines and right angles into a high Alpine setting…”
Yet that traditional ski resort look is pervasive. So much so that the biggest attempt to update it with something more progressive took place almost 60 years ago. It happened in the French Haute-Savoie, when one of the 20th century’s leading architects Marcel Breuer, a Hungarian-born former Bauhaus master, was given carte blanche to build a resort of the future at Flaine.
And Breuer did do something genuinely radical: he brought cubes, raw milky grey concrete, hard lines and right angles into a high Alpine setting. Transporting an architectural style known as brutalism into a snowy mountain world that could not be more opposite from its usual urban habitat.