The autonomous alpine shelter, which resides at 2,810 meters above sea level, was designed by the Department of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Technical University in Zurich (ETH). The four-story building is used by mountaineers, from all over the world as a base camp from which to go on expeditions up the mountains and glaciers. The hut can accommodate up to 125 guests in its restaurant and hostel-like guest rooms. Resembling a shimmering ice crystal, Studio Monte Rosa blends in with the surrounding rock and snow and has a minimal environmental impact on the natural reserve around it.
Since the hut is situated at the edge of a glacier and outside of the range of power lines, it was designed to be 90% energy independent and very energy-efficient. The majority of its energy is generated from photovoltaic panels and solar thermal systems, while the rest comes from a cogenerative heat and power system as a backup source. The designers are still considering how to generate bio-gas from human waste in order to make it totally powered from alternative energy and even more self-sufficient.
The retreat was designed by both students and professionals at the ETH in a combined effort to create a modern, efficient building. Interestingly, the structure was pre-fabricated from from wood and digitally optimized to become a state of the art hotel – so James Bond. The hut was recently completed and at the end of September and has received a Holcim Bronze Award for Sustainable Construction.