The Primitve

Alpine Huts for Hikers

 Fall 2017 - Third Year
Site: Alpine ridge, Zermatt, Switzerland
Professor: Steven Thompson
Individual Work 

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Architects and theologists have been exploring the idea of the Primitive Hut over centuries, which questions the relationship between men and nature. Brought up by architectural theorist Laguier in an Essay on Architecture, the idea argues that architecture’s virtue exists in its primitive state, and we shall learn from the ideal of the primitive hut in which architecture is valued as a part of a natural process.

The project asks for a temporary station for the hikers within the alpine ridge. It sits on the hiking trail of Höhenweg Höhbalmen, and begins and terminates at the train station as a loop. The station composes three huts spread across the site – a living hut, a dining hut, and a birdwatching hut.

In this harsh environment, especially during wintertime, what vitals for hikers is primitive: the accessibility to the protections of shelters, the availability of food, etc. The idea is to indicate how architecture reveals the concept of primitive within the context. By constructing three huts considering the aspects of materiality, site proposition, etc., human’s essential needs within nature are revealed through architectures as intrinsic work.

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The site is located along the hiking trail of Höhenweg Höhbalmen, which is one of the most recommended in this region. It starts and ends at the Zermatt train station in a loop. Along the way, hikers have chances to grasp a variety scene of natural landscape, like the terrine filled with flowers or the overlook of entire Zermatt valley. The project sits adjacent to a short river channel and facing a forest across, and the small picturesque settlement Zmutt is down within a short distance.

The Train Station at the Start

Mountain Scenes

The Zmutt village

“The Matterhorn”

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Primitive Hut

Typology

Architecture

Accessibility

Materiality

Weather Strategy

Site Proposition

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Granary-barn

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Stone House

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Chalet House

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Analogous diagrams of vernacular architectures

The series of diagrams is indicating the investigations of vernacular architectures across the alpine region in the aspects of site proposition, materiality, weather, and access. By learning from different typologies, the project gradually finds a language in engaging with nature.

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summer hut

 winter hut

Weather conditions across seasons

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Site plans in the summer and winter 

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Summer and Winter accesses and an underground pit

The idea is to propose a type of log house that can be easily constructed with local resources by a few men. It provides two accesses for summer and winter: one locates on the first floor while the other on the second with a ladder leading towards. It should also consist an underground pit to preserve food. 

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Locality

Ground Level

Access

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Living Hut

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Dining Hut

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Birdwatching Hut

Three huts spread across the site. The detour of the trail is leading to the living hut in the north. The dining hut is adjacent to the woods, while a birdwatching hut is projecting to the river. The three of them with similar architectural language form a composition to provide the necessity for the hikers.  

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Roof details of the living hut

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Roof details of the dinning hut

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Roof details of the birdwatching hut

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Alpine Huts
Summer 

From April to October, the weather is nice and friendly. Hikers tend to engage with the environment more. They would take preserved jars of food from the underground pit, chopping the woods from the adjacent forest, or gather around the table. 

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Entrance of living hut

Entrance of Birdwatching tower

Entrance of Dining Hut

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Second Floor of Birdwatching tower

Second floor of living hut

Deck at Dining Hut

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Interior view of the living hut’s second floor 

Interior view of the dining space 

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Perspective section showing the use of space

Alpine Huts
Winter 

Piles of snow on the ground make hikers challenging to move through the field. When the main entrance of each hut is blocked, additional access is provided at each. After climbing up into cabins, hikers would feel protected and gain a sense of warmth. 

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Entrance of living hut

Entrance of Birdwatching tower

Entrance of Dining Hut

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The storage of the dinning hut

Second floor of living hut

Coking counter at dining hut

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View of the field from the birdwatching hut’s top platform

View towards the indoor of dining hut 

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Perspective section showing the use of space