of Truffer AG
SINCE 50 MILLION YEARS
A path for the intrepid winds its way down from the Zervreilastrasse to the Jossagada. Jossagada is the name of a topographic line as well as the name of a stone quarry. A seasonal 2-man operation. Only a small section of the rock wall is exposed. Only the layers that can be easily divided are targeted as Mother Nature controls the rest. Luscious vegetation, alder trees, hazelnut shrubs, spruces, ferns….. The Valser Rhine flows on by.
The infrastructure of a quarry is barely noticeable. The equipment includes a small compressor that powers the hand-held drill hammer, some connecting hoses and a 5-tonne Trax. Black powder is used to blast small blocks out of the horizontal ledges in the quarry face. The Trax then positions the stones to split them into even smaller pieces. All models have splitting wedges and blades. The wedges and blades are driven into the stone using stonemason’s hammers of various sizes. Power and feeling strike the perfect balance. The blades being struck into the stone create a xylophone-sounding melody. The work has a meditative feel to it. The split slabs are stored in columns under the suspension cable of the small aerial ropeway. If there is a roof in Vals or the region that needs to be covered, the stones are lifted by hand onto the little train and transported to the storage area where they are then loaded onto the truck again by hand.
From the rock to the block to the semi-finished products to the finished product.
The technique used for modern rock excavation involves a combination of diamond rope cutting and professional drilling. Measured blasts dislodge the stones from the bedrock. State-of-the-art drills then turn the rock into blocks. The 125-tonne excavator, the largest in Switzerland, grabs up to 50 tonnes of blocks in its gargantuan hand and puts it gently down in the right place. Large stackers, the same size as the excavator, transport these under large circular saws where they are then cut, thereby exposing the properties of the stone on the inside. How the block is then further processed is decided based on these findings. There is a large range of products on offer ranging from polished large-sized slabs to small split wall strip facing bricks. Switzerland, a country known for its premium prices, does not look kindly on idle time in production. This is highly automated. Industrial processes coupled together with a powerfully effective team of 55 employees guarantee efficiency and precision.
The markets are as varied and diverse as the products. 60% of all Vals Quartzite mined is exported. It has so far been delivered to over 50 different countries in all the continents of the world. A high-bay warehouse with 1,000 storage bays, all digitally recorded, with professional production logistics and administrative systems help us to maintain our position in these international markets as an SME, and lead us into the future.
Great pioneering work has been achieved in the 34 years since then.
Vals Quarzite – Geology and Petrography
In geological terms, Vals quarzite is one of the lowest Pennine nappes in Mittelbünden.
This is composed of a colourful series of differently sized strata of mica slate, gneiss and quartzite “eyes” as well as dolomites.
The Pennine nappes are made up of rocks that, long before the Alps had formed, were deposited in several sea basins far to the south of the Alps. These rocks were then pushed along northwards, together with their substrates, as the Alps were forming under the pressure from the continent of Africa, stacking them one on top of the other
In petrographic terms, Vals Quartzite is a light grey and greenish fine-grain gneiss with clearly discernible linear patterning and the occasional highly visible feldspar “eye”. Originally it was most likely granite that turned into gneiss as the Alpine fold-thrust formed. Petrographically, Vals Quartzite is also known as mica quartzite, since most of the rock is made from fine-grained quartz and abundant mica on parallel planes.
It has low levels of porosity and water absorption. The material is very compact and has high compressive strength. Its flexural strength perpendicular to the bed is also high The stone is also suitable for outdoor uses since it is a frost-resistant material.
VALS QUARTZITE – A BRAND
We are sitting outside, in front of the large waiting room of a town hall in Paris, promoting our stone for a major project in the city of Paris. There are various other candidates in front of us - we are last in some ways.
There is a long table surrounded by chairs with gentlemen in suits and ties who appear ready for the candidates from Switzerland. We place a rug on the table and place a heavy block of stone on top. This is the stone, a piece of the Swiss mountains, that we would like the people of Paris to walk upon. Our presentation is clumsy, and so is our French As already mentioned, we are the last ones. It is time to find out whether we’ll be out on our ear in 5 minutes or be able to make the most of this opportunity As if the French could sense our journey to Paris with this boulder had not been easy, they grant a longer audience to both us and the stone, noting that our French is not actually that bad and the stone could be promising.
We won the contract and in doing so – 30 years ago – paved our first step into the French market Our explicit aim was to export Vals Stone into the French capital. In doing so, other markets trust us as well.
Since then, we have cultivated our somewhat unconventional ways, sought out risk and delved into the world of architecture and design. The beauty of our stone, with all its facets, fired our imagination. We positioned it with great enthusiasm and devotion where it is best able to release its powerful effect: in the world metropolis of London, New York and Tokyo.
Exciting projects have also been realised in Switzerland. Vals Stone is a big hit as it is indigenous, unique and delightful. Demand is rising at the same rate as the investment.
The Americans are coming. We take them directly to the Swiss mountains. The Zerfreilahorn is a mountain experience and climbing tour. The ignition of the blast the next day leaves no room for doubt: That is the stone for America.
In the 80s, some of Vals’ residents got involved in building a spa. They devised the most intrepid conditions The work is said to have been comparable to that for a church or cathedral as once built by our ancestors A year-long development process begins. The struggle to create something special, acknowledging that everything plays a role, nothing can be left to chance, cut short, simplified, omitted or skimped on is a long learning process. The architect must be allowed to dream and realise the extreme, difficult and impossible. Peter Zumthor then actually built the spa. Both travelled the world: The spa and the architect together with the stone.
Switzerland chooses the stone for the Bundesplatz. Cube-shaped buildings made from broken-up Vals masonry shape the rocksresort in Laax - a pioneering project for winter sports. We are currently realising a project in New York City for J.P. Morgan Chase with the architect firm BCJ. Peter Bohlin worked with Steve Jobs in the past developing the Apple Stores. He recently chose to use Vals Stone for Mrs Jobs’ mountain chalet in Idaho.
Back in Paris, 30 years later, on the trail of our stone. The stone became a brand!
So now we find it in the grand houses of Audemars Piquet and Chanel, Zegna and Chopard, Graff and Hermès, along the Champs Elysées……
And whenever we are in our Swiss metropolis of Zurich, we walk over the Sechseläutenplatz and are pleased that the people of Zurich chose our stone as their centrepiece at Bellevue.
We are mountain people and thus not quite sociable. However, we will not forget established business relations so quickly.
Natural Stone Quarry
T +41 81 935 16 42
F +41 81 935 15 54