Shining Solar Beacon Lights the Way for the Weary Traveler

Monte Rosa Hut - Alpine ShelterPhoto:
All images via Holcim Foundation

Avid skiers may soon find a shining new example of sustainable shelter on their next trip to the Swiss Alps. The Monte Rosa Hut, developed by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) and winner of Holcim Awards Bronze 2008 Europe, is an alpine shelter that uses state-of-the-art technology to self-sufficiently produce energy, collect water and treat both solid waste and waste water – all at 2,883 m above sea level. As a result, the Monte Rosa Hut will be quite superior to existing alpine huts, as it cuts CO2 emissions by one third compared to older buildings.

Monte Rosa Hut - Alpine Shelter in the distancePhoto:

Like a shining beacon that beckons the weary traveler home, the Monte Rosa Hut is revealed as a gleaming, metallic structure sheathed in photo-voltaic cells on closer inspection. Upon entry, guests will find five stories of segment-shaped, wood lathe constructed living space that includes ample dining areas as well as shared spaces to rest weary limbs.

Monte Rosa Hut - Alpine Shelter dining areaPhoto:

In addition to the capture of solar energy for electricity, the building includes a spiral-shaped band of glass around the whole structure, conducting passive solar energy into the dining room and a wrap-around staircase. Guests will be treated to warm sunlight and expansive views of the surrounding mountains at every step.

Monte Rosa Hut - Alpine Shelter stairwayPhoto:

A computer-aided mechanical production process was used to design the shelter to cut down on on-site building requirements, maximize the efficient use of materials and reduce transportation weight.

Dining Area Floorplan
Monte Rosa Hut -  Alpine Shelter dining floorplanPhoto:

Room Floorplan
Monte Rosa Hut - Alpine Shelter sleeping floorplanPhoto:

However, even as a bronze medalist, the project is not without some drawbacks. High construction costs will be associated with transport of materials to the remote mountain-top location, and jury members of the Holcim Awards were concerned with the transferability of the project as a whole. Planned for inauguration this summer, it remains to be seen whether this futuristic new shelter will come to fruition. We’ll be watching!

Sources: 1, 2