Type to search

Prefabricated and sustainably designed, this chalet is a cozy alpine refuge

Climbers Refuge prefabricated
Prefabricated timber structure

Traditional yet modernized and sustainably designed, this chalet is a testament to historical and regional architecture. Designed to reflect the surrounding mountainous landscape, it honors nature within its architectural elements, energy-efficient systems, and natural building materials.

Designed by LCA Architetti, Chalet Blanc, also known as the Climber’s Refuge, sits at the foot of Cervino in the Italian ski village of Valtournenche. As a modern take on nearby lodgings, the building features a masonry foundation and stone surround with a timber structure and cladding for the levels above.

Climber's Refuge sustainable timber facade
Sustainably sourced timber brise soleil

The design of the chalet focused on the use of sustainable and natural materials. Prefabricated and sustainably sourced timber makes up the majority of the building, both inside and out. This choice allowed the architects to respect traditional chalet architecture while relying on renewable resources.

The building envelope was heavily insulated to reduce the heating requirements and room sizes were also considered to help thermally manage the spaces. For the heating that is required, the architects report they, “connected to a large district heating plant which supplies heat to many other buildings in Cervinia, in this way we have significantly reduced C02 emissions.”

Rear view of prefabricated timber Climbers Refuge
Lounge room with fireplace

Inside, every room was designed to take advantage of views, natural daylight, and energy efficiency. The interior design also reflects the natural elements of the location through material and colour palette selections.

The rooms and windows on the top floor face south and open onto terraces woven into a zig-zag pattern with partial shading by a wooden brise soleil. For the opposite walls on the northwest side, the facade intentionally closes and eliminates openings in order to provide protection from harsh weather.

In the main living area, sloped timber ceilings meet into expansive windows that frame the view while lighting the space with natural daylight. The triple-glazed windows provide energy-efficiency without compromising on the dramatic views, alongside well-planned insulation thicknesses that also reduce heating requirements.

Timber balcony with triple glazed windows
Stone balcony on Climbers refuge

The goal of blending the double-pitched roof into the similarly-shaped surrounding peaks serves as an example of how the team reinterpreted the traditional chalet style with a modern twist.

The prefabricated and sustainably designed multi-level structure provides climbers with an impressive list of amenities with the main floor housing a bedroom, lounge, and spa with hot tub, showers, sauna, Turkish bath, and relaxation room. The space peers out towards the garden and a large, stone-paved solarium.

The next level includes four bedrooms and bathrooms, each size-controlled to ensure efficient heating. The top level is reserved as the main living space with the living room, dining room, kitchen, a large fireplace with a stone seat and a raw iron chimney, and a reading space.

Related project: SoLo by Perkins & Will is another alpine getaway made predominantly of timber. Read about it here

Timber lined walls and ceiling with timber flooring
Kitchen inside Climbers Refuge

Sustainability specs:
– Prefabricated and sustainably designed
– Uses sustainably sourced timber
– Timber structural elements and external cladding and used internally on walls, floor and ceiling
– Natural materials used throughout
– Extremely well-insulated building envelope to reduce mechanical heating requirements
– Triple glazed windows
– Room sizes were considered to help thermally manage the spaces
– Southern facade allows in sunlight and northern facade is predominantly closed off to protect the building from harsh weather
– Large windows on the southern facade allow the internal spaces to be naturally lit
– Where mechanical heating is required, it is provided by a local heating plant

Side view of sustainable timber battens
Locally sourced stone and sustainable timber facade
From the architect:

The volume of the house is characterised by the roof, which is a tribute to the skyline and the majesty of the peaks that crown the valley, and represents an attempt to initiate a direct dialogue with the wonder of the surrounding nature.

Images courtesy of LCA Architetti. Photography by Simone Bossi

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *