Hadid and Messner – A summit


When the world‘s most renowned architect, and the world‘s most famous mountaineer jointly implement a project, it can only give birth to something singularly special. In this case, the Messner Mountain Museum on the „Kronplatz“. To realize the vision, both needed technical pioneers and quality building materials, i.e  Kruno Stephan Thaleck and the cement of CRH.  Actually, there are only 14 „Eight-Thousand-Peaks“ (mountains with an altitude over 8,000 meters) in the world. However, for the mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner, according to his own assertion,  there is one more:  the Messner Museum on the „Kronplatz“. It is probable that this is also the case because it was prophesied that he would “slip down the curves of Zaha Hadid”. The star architect planned the museum, totally indulging her  preference for sweeping design elements. Subsequently, Reinhold Messner had to adapt to these elements, when installing his exhibition. Not an easy task, as the Mountaineer admits, even though he had  already gathered ample experience in exhibition design at five other museums

Good Prospects

Where the Messner Museum stands today, the master builder had originally only intended to build a viewing platform,  designed by Zaha Hadid. But Reinhold Messner had a better idea: a museum. So the architect designed it, thus creating an architectural gem. From the outside, the building is obscured. It digs into the mountain in a tunnel-like fashion . Only the entrance, towards the plateau and the formations on the other side, protrudes from the mountain top. When desiging  the panoramic windows,  the architect indulged the extreme mountaineer. Through the large openings, the visitor sees the tip of „Peitlerkofel“ behind which Reinhold Messner was born, the „Heiligkreuzkofel“, which was one of his most difficult Dolomite climbs, according Messner, and the „Ortler“, the highest mountain in South Tyrol, Messner’s home.

Sweeping Architecture

Already at the entrance, visitors anticipate that an architectural masterpiece lies ahead. The major components of the facade had never been created as cement-bonded items on this scale, before this. Inside, the visitor is guided downwards, via a staircase, an interior design that is described by many visitors as a “racy and impressive”. With her distinctive design language, Zaha Hadid imitates the jagged peaks of limestone, evokes the image of raging mountain streams,  and mirrors the geometry of snowdrifts. This was made possible through the use of a special kind of concrete, CEton, more precisely. It is a building material manufactured by  B & T Bau & Technologie GmbH. The evolutionary story of CEton is closely linked with the architect Zaha Hadid: She designed a London property in 2009, with similarly curved forms. However, it was regarded among experts as unbuildable; that is, until those responsible were able to use CEton. This building material was developed by Kruno Stephan Thaleck, owner of B & T Bau + Technology GmbH, and was used here for the first time, in a more complex process.

Innovative Products

CEton elements are textile-reinforced composite structures, produced on a concrete base, which essentially consist of an aluminum honeycomb core, and are produced in a composite process. In its application, Thaleck relied on the cement manufactured by CRH. Unlike the London property, in which white cement was used, the master builders opted for gray cement for the Messner Museum: CEM II / A-LL 42,5 N Portland limestone cement which comes from the CRH (Slovensko) a.s. cement plant in Rohožník. It is easy to process and is characterized by its good early hardening capacity, as well as a normal post-hardening process.

It develops an average hydration heat and has good water retention capacity – which makes it especially suitable for the production of exposed concrete surfaces. Thanks to its reduced proportion of clinker, less CO2 is released during the production of CEM II / A-LL 42,5 N. Because of this,  it is environment-friendly. An important criterion in the selection of the cement was the color of the concrete, that was manufactured with this cement. The CRH-cement resembles the alpine limestone, and precisely matched the expectations of the planners .


Slimming Method for Optimum Light-Weight

While CEton elements in London still have a thickness of 60 mm and a weight of 50 kg / m², which was a sensation at the time, Kruno Stephan Thaleck pushed the potential of the material to its limit with the buidling of the Messner Museum. Here, the elements were only 20 mm thick, with a size of 8.20 x 2.30 m. In total, an area of ​​about 1,700 m² was dressed with CEton elements, in the interior and on the exterior . For this,  B & T Construction & Technology GmbH produced a total of 374 single plates (concrete class 4) for CEton GmbH, all of them with multiple curvatures. In order to realize this geometry, the 3D models were prepared by the manufacturer, using a CAD-CAM system for CNC manufacture. Since all CEton elements had different shapes, the manufacturer had to individually customize all the form-work. He was not able to  use them again. To make matters worse, the architects had planned concrete elements with undercuts, which made the CEton  difficult to detach from the mould. But Kruno Stephan Thaleck found a solution, even for this challenge.

Summit Highlight

Today the museum is a consummate work of art;  on the one hand it displays magnificent architecture, which in itself draws considerable attention, and on the other hand, it depicts the development of mountaineering over the last 250 years, which is equally fascinating. In the Summer 2015, the first visitors were given the opportunity to enter the museum, at the lofty height of 2275 m. In his opening speech, Patrick Schuhmacher, CEO of Zaha Hadid’s firm, emphasized the pioneering accomplishment of Kruno Stephan Thaleck. He also praised the product CEton, which was manufactured using CRH cement. The entire museum is a real asset to „Kronberg“, because visitors to the popular Winter Sport area have now gained a superb attraction for the warmer time of year.

Author: Claudia El Ahwany

CEton GRC GmbH

B & T Bau + Technologie GmbH