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High on Sustainability: Modern Design in the Alps

The Monte Rosa Hut sits 2,883 meters high in Monte Rosa Massif mountains, between the Gorner, Monte Rosa, and Grenz glaciers near Zermatt, Switzerland.

Facts

Location

Switzerland

Nemetschek Group Brands

Vectorworks

Technology used

Vectorworks Architect

High on Sustainability: Modern Design in the Alps

The Monte Rosa Hut sits 2,883 meters high in Monte Rosa Massif mountains, between the Gorner, Monte Rosa, and Grenz glaciers near Zermatt, Switzerland. It was conceived as one of fifty projects undertaken to commemorate ETH Zürich’s 150th anniversary. The head of the anniversary celebration formed the Studio Monte Rosa at the ETH Faculty of Architecture to design and build a structure that would replace the original lower elevation Monte Rosa Hut, which was in great need of repair. 

The new structure would serve two important purposes: to provide alpinists and hikers protection from the elements and a comfortable space to eat, rest, and commune with fellow travelers; and to provide ETH Zürich with valuable research on effective sustainable practices. 

The redesign and construction of the Monte Rosa Hut was realized through constant collaboration among the ETH students, the Swiss architecture firm Bearth & Deplazes Architekten, and the Studio Monte Rosa ― a combined group of selected ETH students and Bearth & Deplazes architects. With guidance from Bearth & Deplazes Architekten, the ETH students and the Studio Monte Rosa worked diligently on the design concepts for four semesters. After crafting twelve different proposals for the facility, they narrowed their ideas down to one groundbreaking design.

Professor Andrea Deplazes, Bearth & Deplazes Architekten AG

"The program’s accurate, flexible symbol libraries were very helpful to the team because the designers did not have to create the components from scratch."

Solitary Outpost

There are no roads to the Monte Rosa Hut. Visitors travel by foot over rocky, snow-covered terrain — a traveler can walk two to three hours from the nearest train station in Rotenboden or drop in by helicopter. 

The facility can accommodate up to 120 guests. The bedrooms feature trapezoidal mattresses in various sizes made to minimize wasted space by matching the shape of the human body (broader at the top and tapering for the legs). During the specialty research phase of the project, the ETH students used Vectorworks® software to maximize the placement and number of beds within the given space. By simulating many different scenarios for the beds and other building elements, the design team optimized the hut’s entire design, which saved a great amount of development time and significantly reduced building costs. 

The design team used Vectorworks Architect to create the complex geometry of the Monte Rosa Hut, designing 420 different wall and ceiling elements that were pieced together. It was a challenge to coordinate the different geometries while keeping the detailed solutions as similar as possible. The program’s accurate, flexible symbol libraries were very helpful to the team because the designers did not have to create the components from scratch.

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