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Viamala Raststätte in Thusis, Switzerland

In the course of an invited architectural competition for a highway service area, a proposal of the young architectural office Iseppi-Kurath from Grisons, Switzerland was selected as the winning project. The design of the two architects achieved to translate the theme of the “window towards the region” with a complex layout and in a consequent and exciting fashion.

The Viamala Raststätte Thusis is located next to the exit Thusis-Nord at the highway A13 in Grisons, Switzerland. The unique access of an existing highway exit, that has a connection to both sides of the highway, allows this project to service the alpine traffic from south and north alike. Therefore the service area isn’t only available for transit but also local traffic and is furthermore connected via pedestrian and cycling ways to the sporting grounds of Thusis and the neighboring villages of Cazis, Sils i.D., Fürstenau and Fürstenaubruck. The service area is located at the southern end of the plot and offers an internal connection to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

The expressive roof of the fuel station combines the architectural prelude of the building and brings together the entrance and exit of it, along the 24-hour service area (restrooms, gas pumps, telephone and bancomat). When entering the building, the customer experiences a generous entrance area. Circling the building clockwise, the customer passes by the shop for local produce and products, restaurant, bar area, take-away, tourism information and finally arrives at the shop, the register and exit area.

The cross-shaped layout allows to accommodate quieter areas for conference purposes and a serviced restaurant. These areas have large-format windows opening towards and establishing connections to the Viamala canyon, Muttnerhöhe, Schin canyon and the Domleschg valley. Additionally to those great views, the wooden interior of the service area expresses warmth and cozy concealment. This atmosphere is supposed to contrast the outside appearance.

Including the gas station, the service area has a gross volume of 8,500 m3 and an underground floor below the entire building. Accessible via stairs and a freight elevator, the underground floor hosts heating, building technology, storage and staff wardrobes. The public areas like restaurant, conference room and the shop have direct access to the outside, therefore no particular fire emergency precautions were mandatory. The main load bearing elements are wood, complemented by some stiffening concrete slabs. These elements carry the interior wooden finishing and the exterior façade from metal. The building with its weatherproof and low maintenance façade from metal references through the formal design and choice of materials the surrounding landscape but also automobile technology.
The roof construction of one meter thickness, consisting of beams from laminated wood and rafters in between is not insulated and completely aerated. The insulation is installed through a suspended ceiling. The wall elements of timber frame construction where prefabricated and mounted at the construction. For the Viamala Raststätte, wood was used for the construction, interior finish and for heating, employing wood pellets.


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Special edition launch: Marmite XO

Core Design has created an exclusive run of 200 hand-crafted jars for the launch of new extra-matured Marmite ‘XO’. A brand iconic in the UK, which has remained virtually unchanged for decades. The new flavour variant has been developed through an innovative social media campaign, creatively directed by The Core. In a unique example of consumer engagement, the brand offered its thirty biggest fans (so-called ‘super-lovers’) the chance to be inducted into a secret society, The Marmarati...

There they were given responsibility for refining the flavour, telling their story via blogs, social media sites and recruiting a wider group of members. Thanks to their work, hundreds of Lovers submitted proof of their love to www.marmarati.org in the hope of being initiated into The Marmarati’s ‘Second Circle’. One hundred and sixty made the grade.

Tasked with creating a beautiful, highly-collectable piece to reward this group for their efforts and welcome them into the society, The Core focussed on building rich vintage cues around Marmite’s key equities: black and gold. Each jar was hand-dipped in black wax and stamped with the gold crest of the Marmarati. The lids were finished with a watchstrap detail, individually signed and numbered by Lord Marmarati himself.

The resulting packs arrived with fans, selected press and buyers with an accompanying ‘taster’ jar of the finished XO product. Says Unilever’s Tom Denyard, Marketing Manager for Marmite, “The commemorative jar had to be something special – we were asking people to give up their time to submit proof of their love for the brand and the jar was their reward. It’s a testament to the quality of the design that when we ‘leaked’ images of how it would look, Twitter and Facebook exploded with conversation and entries increased threefold. Our Lovers just had to have one.”