Monte-Rosa-Hütte, “Monte Rosa Hut” is a mountain climbing house, erected in 2009 at 2,883 meters above sea level near the Zermatt ski resort in southern Switzerland, close to the Italian border. The building is located at the starting point of a series of popular routes - to the peak of Monte Rosa (4634 m), at the foot of which it is located, and to other famous Swiss peaks, including the four-thousanders Matterhorn and Breithorn.
In the "mountain huts", climbers and hikers get a night's lodging and hot food. Such shelters appeared in the Alps in the 19th century with the development of mountain tourism there. So, in 1895, at the foot of Monte Rosa, the Bethan hut appeared, which since 1929 belongs to the Swiss Alpine Club. The same organization also owns the existing building.
The new 5-storey “hut Monte Rosa” for 120 tourists has become a unique object. The idea of its creation arose in 2003 in connection with the approaching 150th anniversary of the Federal Higher Technical School in Zurich - the famous ETH. This is why the energy efficient "hut" has become a symbolic pin in memory of the anniversary in the Alps.
The development of the project was carried out by ETH, with VELUX Schweiz AG as a partner, for which the topic of resource efficiency is key. The Swiss subsidiary VELUX contributed to the project by sharing its knowledge with the authors and supplying its products to the site.
The project started as a student and lasted two semesters. In the first semester, out of 10 works, six were selected, which in the second half of the year were transferred to the next group of students for development. Especially for this project, Studio Monte Rosa was organized on the basis of ETH under the leadership of Professor Andrea Deplazes, partner of Bearth & Deplazes Architekten. As a result, a large multidisciplinary team was formed, including even specialists in the fields of management and economics.
From a distance, the building looks like a crystal that catches sunlight and energy with its edges. It was erected on a foundation in the form of a stainless steel wheel with a concrete core: so that the above-ground part does not come into contact with the ground and is not negatively affected by the frozen rock. The building itself is completely made of wood, including the frame. Only outside the facades and the roof are covered with a silver aluminum cladding. VELUX roof windows are installed not only on the roof (5 pieces), but also on the surface of the facade with a total area of 120 m2, where they are adjacent to solar panels (41 windows).
The most difficult part of the implementation was the assembly of the "hut". It was necessary to have time for a very short mountain summer, first to deliver the materials to the site, and then to carry out all the work. The laying of the foundations took one summer, and over the next, the wooden structure was assembled from ready-made parts. These elements, turned on a computer-controlled machine, were assembled like a 3D puzzle. It took 3,000 helicopter "flights" to get materials and 35 workers from Zermatt to the glacier. Today it is the most complex wooden structure in Switzerland.
Energy efficiency in the project has become just as much a cultural and environmental challenge as it is a technical one. The architects had to find a balance between the use of ultra-modern solutions and the result that is easily accessible to the traditional perception: after all, this "hut" is very different from the usual Alpine chalets, and against the background of the snowy Alpine space, this metal-clad house looks alien-cosmic.
Monte Rosa home security systems should be mentioned separately. It receives 90% of the required energy (16 kW) from the sun: the angle of inclination of the southern facade of 66´2 ° is optimal for capturing the sun's rays by the batteries. Even the configuration of the volume of the building is determined by the arc of the sun's movement. The remaining 10%, which is needed at the moments of peak loads, comes from a mini-CHP that runs on biofuel - rapeseed oil.
Electricity is used for cleaning sewer systems, ventilation, lighting, and powering household appliances. Surplus energy from solar panels is stored in valve regulated lead acid batteries. Water is obtained from a glacier that melts during the summer: it is collected in a reservoir located 40 m up the slope. All systems are controlled by a computer program designed specifically for the "hut" at ETH: it adjusts their operation depending on the weather conditions and the number of visitors.
A zigzag tape of glazing along the perimeter of the volume and dotted windows on the facades are located so that the sun warms up the air inside the building. This tape runs parallel to the flights of the inner staircase, which spirals along the outer wall. For ease of use in different rooms, dormers with opening along the middle axis (model "classic" GGL), as well as windows with combined opening along the middle and upper axes (model "panorama" GPL) were used. The building has a central ventilation system, but windows can be opened manually if desired.
The peculiarity of the Monte Rosa house is that it was conceived not as a self-sufficient image, but as an expression of the global idea of the joint work of many systems and processes. For several years, this building also serves as a research station where ETH students study
efficient use of energy and other natural resources. The ultimate goal is to teach them how to turn theoretical knowledge into practically useful technologies.
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