Architecture: The Last Resort at Refuge de Gouter, Mont Blanc

Nicky's World

I wanted to share this incredible mountain refuge with you, Refuge de Gouter, designed by Groupe H in collaboration with Decalaage. This self sufficient building sits at 3,835m and overhangs the ‘Aiguille du Goûter’ on Mont Blanc. Perched on Europe’s highest peak, this refuge recognises the final stage of the mountaineers climb. A metal clad wooden structure, the 720 sq/m hut can accommodate 120 people, with dorms, a dining room, communal living rooms, and a dining room with panoramic views to get you started on the last leg of this incredible adventure in the morning.

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In order to limit co2 emissions associated with the transportation and build of the structure last year, the wood used was cut from forests in the nearby region of St Gervais. The alpine ridge is subject to winds exceeding 300km per hour and as a response, the refuge has some seriously strong foundations that comprise of 69 pilings anchored into hard rock, with an average depth of 12m.

Designed to function self sufficiently, the refuge maximises the use of available natural resources. 50 sq/m of thermal solar panels are installed at the foot of the building, generating thermal energy from melting snow, which in turn produces clean, hot water.

The electricity is generated by 95 sq/m of photovoltaic solar panels installed on the facade and on the roof. The shell consists of 128 rectangular or bevelled panels, and is covered in satin-finished stainless steel. The bevelled surfaces mimic those found on mont blanc – altering their illumination according the movement of the sun across the sky, so the building practically glistens in the powerful mountain sunlight.

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The communal dining room

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The dorms

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Do you know anyone who has visited since it opened last year?!

Images c/o Designboom / Hervé Dessimoz

Nicky’s World October 2014

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