The New Monte Rosa Hut // Switzerland

The New Monte Rosa Hut is a joint project of ETH Zurich, SAC, Lucerne University and EMPA. The project shows exemplary architectural character in the field of energy and resource efficiency.

The following information is from ETH Zurich:

‘Studio Monte Rosa is a special mountain hut, which has been planned for the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) by the Department of Architecture.
The project covers from the conception to the final execution all the phases and technological blocks needed for the realization of this unique building.

In fact, the new Studio Monte Rosa is in the middle of a natural reserve with extreme alpine conditions, yet energetically to 90% self-contained and self-sufficient (90% autarchy).
In splendid isolation, on the edge of a glacier in pristine wilderness, the hut will be able to host 125 guests in the restaurant and hotel with very little environmental impact. The four floors will be realized in a wooden pre-fabricated structure. The realization of bio-gas generation for human waste recycling is also being considered.’

This text is from the New Monte Rosa Hut website:


ETH Zurich and the Swiss Alpine Club SAC developed the concept of the new Monte Rosa hut. The lodge unites pioneering new technologies in design, calculation and production of buildings on an exemplary display- with the aim to realize excellent and innovative architectural design. Situated within this pristine and spectacular scenery, nestled between Gorner border and Monte Rosa glacier, this project sets a milestone for the high-altitude construction.

//The Contribution Of The Students

In Summer 2003, Prof. Andrea Deplazes and Professor Meinrad K. Eberle from the ETH Zurich requested an appropriate scenario for the planning and execution of the project ‘New Monte Rosa-Hütte’. In the Winter semester 2003/04 Prof. Andrea Deplazes established the ‘Studio Monte Rosa’. During four semesters students prepared various drafts for a new hut. The rock-like-looking project was selected for further processing.

The ‘Studio Monte Rosa’ is an excellent example of a practice-oriented education, from planning over conception to execution.

The draft for the new Monte Rosa hut includes the parameters of landscape, function and the latest technology to form a concise summary.


The wooden construction of the new hut is in the dining room on the ground floor very well visible. The internal development on the scale cascade staircase opens spectacular views to the guests. Whether faced touristic claims or challenged by the topography: the students have succeeded in a wide range of issues with smart solutions.

Seen from the outside, the new Monte Rosa hut, with its shimmering metallic outer skin looks like a rock. Nevertheless, it conveys the impression of a homely protecting house. In the inside, the used timber spreads an exciting dialogue between modernity, tradition and attraction.

The vast landscape is staged by the cascade stairs- the visitors experience continuous panoramic impressions from the dining room to the top floor. In contrast, the sleeping rooms remind the guests of retreat and security.


On the base of the energy balance of the old hut, the energy consumption of the new eco lodge has been optimized. Based on the energy balance of the existing cottage was the potential for improvements identified and the energy of the new lodge is estimated. In addition, the impact of materials and construction of different scenarios on the environment were compared with the help of a life cycle analysis.

Although the energy of the new hut, using a water recycling system, is higher than that of the existing cottage, the resulting CO2-emissions will be reduced by more than two-thirds per night. The reasons therefore are founded in the use of renewable energies and seasonal storage and multiple use of water, which allow water supply of the hut without snow melts.

The concept of sustainability includes the selection of appropriate materials, as well as the efficient use of water and energy resources. It guarantees a resource-saving and pollution-free construction and operation, what minimizes the impact on the environment. The design of the ecological system thus guarantees a sustainable construction at large.

//Energy And Water

The energy and building the new Monte Rosa hut goes new ways in order to more environmentally friendly way, a high degree of self-sufficiency to ensure. In the alpine area at 2883 m above sea level. In addition the operation of the lodge should be guaranteed with a self-sufficiency rate of 90%. This means that only one tenth of the total energy must be delivered by helicopter. This is a far superior standard.

90% of energy needs are met with solar energy: solar energy provides the electrical equipment via photovoltaic modules. Excess energy is stored in batteries, which guarantees an uninterrupted supply even in overcast weather or at night. As a complementary source of electricity at peak periods or as a redundant system in case of failure of the photovoltaic system will be a power station which generates heat and electricity.

The water demand will be covered by meltwater from surrounding areas. This water is collected in summer and stored in a cavern, so that even in times without meltwater flowing water in the refuge is available. All appliances are designed for a water-saving operation. The in-house facility for recycled waste water is used for flushing the toilet. The hot water for showers, sinks and the kitchen is mostly solar heated.

//Construction On The Glaciers

The construction of a mountain cabin is a demanding task, because only during the short summer season can be built. In late summer 2008, the construction of the new Monte Rosa hut begun. The groundbreaking in this particular case is accompanied by small explosions to anchore the steel foundations in the rock.

The wall and ceiling elements are made of wood and can be bolted directly on site. The insulation is integrated between the timber and is protected by a wind-and weather-resistant metal casing.

Such building demands highest requirements concerning planning and execution. The transportation of materials must be planned scrupulously and with minimal reserves. Electricity and water are barely available. Wind and weather- even if they are the everyday life of a mountaineer- require specially trained personnel for installation and construction management.



//Groundbreaking, 16 August 2008 August 2008


//Holcim Award

September 2008, the project has received the ‘Holcim Awards Bronze 2008 Europe’ of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. So it is qualified for the global competition as well.

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction awards worldwide projects and visions, that set sustainable construction standards.

Further information is available at

14 Responses to “The New Monte Rosa Hut // Switzerland”

  1. Lucas Gray says:

    This is a beautiful little project and well deserving as a Holcim Award winner. The 2010/11 Holcim Awards are now open. For more information:

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  3. This is a great design. I love the dedication to sustainability, especially considering the difficult climatic conditions.
    Very deserving of winning a Holcim Award.

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  6. Vaughan says:

    Does anyone know what material was used for the exterior? i know its a metal, but what type? great and innovative design though very inspiring.

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