The Monte Rosa Refuge in Switzerland
I am fascinated by this building. Perhaps it is to do with my passion for skiing and adventure sports. Perhaps it’s because constructing a building in such an inhospitable environment is in someways like building a colony on the moon. Perhaps its the avant-guard architecture and state of the art technology. In any case this is a fine example of energy efficiency and going off grid. It’s a hotel, entirely self sufficient in energy, and it’s built next to a glacier.
5 storeys, 120 beds (for climbers and hikers) 2883 m above sea level
90% solar energy 10% rapeseed oil (only at peak demand)
Modern timber frame offsite construction (helicoptered in)
Stainless Steel foundations
Silver coloured aluminium shell
Heat recovery and ventilation system
PV electricity is used for sewage treatment equipment, ventilation, lighting and household appliances. Excess energy is stored in valve-regulated lead-acid accumulators.
Bands of windows allow the sun to heat air inside the spiral building. Thermal energy produced by visitors is also redistributed.
In summer water from melting glaciers is collected and stored in a large reservoir 40 metres above the hut.
A bacteria-based microfiltration system cleans waste water and this will then be reused to flush the toilets, and for cooking and washing purposes.
A sophisticated energy management system matches demand and supply of energy.
It doubles up as a type of high-altitude laboratory, equipping it with a highly advanced IT system, which continually collects different types of data, such as weather conditions, water levels, and stored energy. Thanks to these data, not only will the running of the refuge become ever more efficient but valuable knowledge will be generated with regard to improving the sustainability of existing building technologies
Bookings can be made here: http://www.alpenonline.ch/reservation/calendar?hut_id=6&lang=en Please let me know how you get on!
Author: John Wolfendale
John is a founder of Eco Vida and is passionate about bringing modern design and construction practices to Spain. He believes a home which is warm in winter and cool in summer is largely a matter of design and selective use of materials. He is British and a Chartered Surveyor with 20 years experience living and working in Spain.