What do you do when you want to buy a chalet in Zermatt and along with it you are offered a mothballed hydroelectric plant? Simple – you restore the turbine building as the “Turbina Zermatt” event location!
Swiss Aargau native Christian Meier in 1994 started the Stoked Snowboard School in Zermatt. As it grew and grew, he needed a place where he could house his many snowboarding instructors. A vacant chalet in Zermatt’s Winkelmatten neighborhood close by the Matterhorn struck him as just the thing for his young troops.
But, of course, it didn’t quite turn out as expected…
What Meier had not counted on: The owner did not just want to dispose of the chalet, but also get the Gornergrat railway’s turbine building next door off his hands in the bargain.
Good gracious — a turbine building for what?!
Turbina Zermatt Event Location
Here’s what for: the hydro station was built in 1898 to power the Gornergrat electric railway. In those days, it would have been more expensive to build but cheaper to operate than a steam-powered train. The 750 horsepower turbine was retired in 1947; meanwhile, the building had become seriously dilapidated.
It is now 2014, and Christian Meier with his brothers Jürg and Michael get to work restoring the building themselves to repurpose it as an event location. They retain many of the original distinctive features, and, naturally, those turbines.
Even the machine noise and the steam from the turbines are still going full blast ;-)
Besides the ski and snowboard school, the bustling (“stoked”?) Meier brothers today also operate Boot Fitting & Biomechanics, the event planning agency Stoked Experience, Stoked Real Estate and the Sports Shop & Rental at Bahnhofstrasse 72 in Zermatt.
And hey, who can claim to have bought a turbine building to go with his chalet?
+41 27 967 70 30
Our thanks go to…
…Corinne Ulrich of Zermatt Tourism for organizing the visit!
Warm thanks also to Christian Meier and his team for the adventuresome explanations. We wish you continued success with your numerous enterprises!
Und also a big thank you to DJ Electric Steve! He looks after laying down the sound rug from the DJ cockpit ;-)