Studio Monte Rosa, a combined group of selected ETH students and Swiss architecture firm Bearth & Deplazes Architekten, designed a structure that would replace the original hut, which was in great need of repair. The new lodging serves two important purposes: to provide alpinists and hikers protection from the elements as well as a comfortable, clean space to eat, rest, and commune with fellow travelers; and to provide ETH Zürich with valuable research on effective sustainable practices."
The facility can accommodate up to 120 guests. It contains a simple kitchen and dining area—both fashioned from spruce and fir, which were chosen for their sustainability quotients. A large common room provides a spot for socialization. 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, 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 software to create the complex geometry of the Monte Rosa Hut, designing 420 different wall and ceiling elements that were pieced together. A big task was handling the different geometries while keeping the detailed solutions as similar as possible, as was done with the ribbon glazing/window strip, the timber construction/woodwork, and the furnishing of the bedrooms. 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.
The software also provided the basis for calculating project costs according to Swiss standards and enabled the students to employ a “digital chain” methodology to fine-tune the hut’s components at each step of the project and move their data seamlessly from concept to design, to development, to fabrication, and finally to construction. The end result: precisely-manufactured building elements and smooth collaboration with numerous other project teams. By using the digital chain to address complexities and efficiencies, they were able to reduce the number of building elements by 30 percent and the weight by 40 percent, and also adjust design elements throughout the process."