OFIS architects and AKT II teamed up with Harvard University Graduate School of Design students to design and build a beautiful yet practical shelter to withstand Slovenia’s extreme alpine climate. Topped with a jagged mountain-inspired roofline, the minimalist and modular cabin provides safe refuge to adventurers on Mountain Skuta. The vernacular-inspired Alpine Shelter Skuta frames stunning views of the valley and was airlifted into place by the Slovenian Armed Forces.
Clad in Rieder’s ‘öko skin’ glass fiber-reinforced concrete, the sharply pitched alpine hut is built to weather extreme climatic conditions and unexpected catastrophes, from harsh winds to deadly landslides. The dwelling sleeps up to eight mountaineers and comprises three modules that were prefabricated offsite. The modules were created as a series of robust frames that were then braced together and anchored to the rocky ground via “strategically placed pin connections” to allow for easy installation while minimizing landscape disturbance. The modular setup also allowed for easy transport and programmatically divided the interior.
In contrast to the facade’s cool mountain-gray concrete, the interior is lined in natural, untreated wood for a warm and cozy atmosphere. The first module serves as the entrance with space for storage and a small kitchen. The middle module includes bedrooms and a living area, while additional bunk bed sleeping areas are located in the third module. The structure’s gable end-walls are faced with full-height triple-glazed windows calculated to withstand strong wind and snow loads that also offer incredible panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Sixty volunteers completed the transportation and installation of the Alpine Shelter Skuta in just one day. The new shelter replaced a former 50-year-old bivouac. “Although the scale of the bivouac is small, the project required a lot of effort and planning from over sixty participants who were mostly volunteers and sponsors,” writes OFIS Architects. “All would agree that, despite the small size, it was no less demanding than any large building project. However, all of the effort and planning for this small-scale project is meant to keep the memory, spirit and culture of the mountains as a special place for Slovenians. The hope is that the bivouac will serve as a shelter for all of the climbers who need it, and that through their care and attention the bivouac will continue to do so for many years.”
Images via OFIS architects