Not Just a Wooden Hut

The hut hiding in the rocks

the warm, wooden interior of the mountain hut

detail of woodgrain milled into the heavy timbers of the dining room

Inaccessible by things with motors or wheels (exception: helicopters), visitors to the Neuen Monte-Rosa-Hütte have all hiked on foot for three hours from the base of a mountain. Specifically, they have hiked from the base of Monte Rosa in the Swiss Alps. The hut is not only a sight for sore eyes, it’s a lodge and restaurant for your other body parts that are probably sore and hungry from hiking over glacial and mountainous terrain. The sleek and faceted exterior doesn’t hit at the warm materiality inside, but… uh… how did all that material get up there? 3000 helicopter trips transported workers and prefabricated chunks of the project to the construction site because mules were too expensive.

Designed by Bearth & Deplazes, the project is a joint effort between ETH and the Swiss Alpine Club. It’s a project that references the site and traditional timber-framing techniques in a contemporary way, all while producing 90% of the energy it consumes. One curious detail is the exaggerated wood grain milled into the timbers of the restaurant. I wasn’t too surprised when I found it was the work of Gramazio & Kohler (remember them?) who describe the wood grain as “combining innovation and tradition into a sensual spatial experience.”


February 7, 2011