The shelter, called Bivacco Brédy, is located in the Aosta Valley and was conceived as a memorial by the family of Claudio Brédy, a local politician and Alpinist who died during a mountain excursion in 2017.
A competition, launched in 2019 with the support of the Cantieri d’Alta Quota cultural association, selected BCW Collective‘s design as the winner.
Sitting on a rock slab 2,528 metres above sea level, the shelter features a large window oriented towards the Grivola and Gran Paradiso mountains and Gran Paradiso, which had been climbed by Claudio Brédy.
“The architecture interprets both openness of spirit and introspective nature through a minimalist approach; it offers protection yet is open to the horizon, as if springing free,” said the studio.
“Beyond the symbolism, the orientation is an environmental strategy, maximising solar gain to warm the bivouac in the cold winter months,” it continued.
“Thus the Vertosan Valley has a new memorial icon, solid in form yet light in touch, protective yet ephemeral.”
Inside, the centre of the cabin contains three bunk beds, as well as a window seat, a desk bookshelf built around the window to the north and an entrance area with built-in storage for hiking equipment by the entrance to the south.
The space is lined in pale timber, with two windows above the bunk beds helping to create a sense of being “immersed” in the landscape.
“The interior space is optimised for functionality, focusing on the view and sensorial experience as users immersed in the surrounding mountain context,” explained the studio.
“Pushing into the void, the cantilevered volume evokes the absence of an important member of a family and community.”
The cabin was prefabricated to minimise its impact on the site, with the structure delivered by helicopter and assembled in just a few days.
A metal-frame foundation anchors the cabin directly to its rocky site. This was chosen for its minimal impact on the landscape and its adaptability, should the shelter need to be moved in the future.
This frame supports a structure of wooden insulated panels clad in aluminium, with materials chosen for their lightweight, long lifespan and minimal maintenance requirements.
BCW Collective was founded in 2019 by architects Chiara Tessarollo, Skye Sturm and Facundo Arboit.
Architecture studio Demogo recently completed a similar prefabricated cabin for hikers, which is perched on the edge of a cliff in the Dolomites to frame dramatic mountain views.
In Norway, Snøhetta built a group of timber cabins overlooking the Jostedalen glacier in place of a number of accommodation buildings that were destroyed by a cyclone.
The photography is courtesy of BCW Collective unless otherwise stated.
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