Gallery: Solar-Powered Monte Rosa Alpine Hut is 90% Energy Independent

Monte Rosa restaurant layout
Monte Rosa restaurant layout

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.

+ Studio Monte Rosa

+ Department of Architecture at ETH

+ Swiss Alpine Club


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  2. Holcim Awards December 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    This project was a past winner of the Holcim Awards. If you have a creative sustainable project submit it to the 2011 awards:

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  4. Kramer October 27, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    The hut is not complete, as stated in the story, above. Those are computer generated images. This Monte-Rosa-Hut project just broke ground and has a target completion date somewhere near the end of 2009.

  5. Steve N. Lee October 10, 2008 at 2:58 am

    This looks wonderful. Particularly the nighttime shot where it’s all lit up. And the daytime shot where it’s surrounded by snowcapped mountains. And… well, I can’t imagine when it doesn’t look cool, really.

    As for sitting in the restaurant or waking up in the morning and gazing out of your window at these views… Wow!

    And it’s green. Excellent. Could it get any better.

    But, is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that it seems to have a twin brother in Ningbo, China?

    That’s a green, shiney, sparkly building with excellent green credentials. But more than that, they really are so similar they could have been separated at birth on the architect’s desk.

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to go far to check out this little family group – it’s here on Inhabitat and was posted about just days ago:

    I have to admit, though, I do have a favourite. No guesses for which one.

    Steve N. Lee
    author of eco-blog
    and suspense thriller ‘What if…?’

  6. Fair Trade October 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    What an incredible piece of architecture – beautiful; and green!

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