Courtesy of Origen Theater

And it was built to withstand an avalanche.

August 07, 2017

Situated in the shadow of a mountain and nestled at an altitude of more than 2,500 feet above sea level in the Swiss Alps, the Origen Festival's new theater is difficult to miss.

Weighing in at 410 tons to withstand the strong winds and even avalanches in the mountains, the bright red of the structure stands out against the natural landscape of Switzerland. While it was built for this year's theater festival, it's set to remain as a performance space until 2020.

Related: New York City’s New Metrograph Theater

"We thought it’s perhaps more interesting if you don’t have a big opera house to use nature as a big theme,” festival director Giovanni Netzer told Travel + Leisure. “The idea was to combine the atmosphere in the landscape with the performance you do onstage,” he added.

The Julierpass, where the theater is located, was once the site of an ancient Roman sanctuary, and later a Christian chapel.

 Courtesy of Origen Theater

Nicknamed “The Red Tower,” the theater can accommodate 250 people, with spectators placed mostly in the windows of the performance space.

The minister of culture officially opened the space on July 31, with all performances scheduled to take place at dusk, allowing for a more “direct dialogue between the performances and the landscape,” said a statement about the project. The setting sun is supposed to replace the harsh light of stage bulbs, according to the same release.

Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin performs at the Origen theater.
 Courtesy of Origen Theater

Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin (who became a household name after a video of him dancing to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” went viral in 2015) helped inaugurate the theater this summer with a new solo performance.

Performances are slated to continue inside the tower year-round, though the theater still needs an additional 1 million Swiss francs (approximately $1.03 million) to prepare it for the winter.

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