Architecture. A main factor of development and protection of the mountain environment

The objective of this contribution is to show architecture as a major factor of development in mountain environment against the risks, both, environmental and human, caused by the severe overcrowding of the routes leading to the main Alpine summits. The choice between new buildings and the rehabilitation of existing refuges is currently a subject of debate in the Alps. The conference will focus on the Mont-Blanc area. Empirical observations in situ and confrontation between architectural and environmental considerations have raised specific issues. Nevertheless, this approach is applicable to other summits. In a theoretical contribution, architecture will be put forward as a main factor in the development of the mountain environment. The definitions of walking, landscape and territory scale will be seen as an integral part of the architectural project: contributing to the choice of the site, the shape and integration. In order to consider the design of the spaces, the right level of comfort, appropriate materials and atmosphere, and the human and environmental risks at high altitude and in extreme environments will be discussed. Particular attention will be paid to the Aiguille du Goûter refuge as a case study. As the overcrowding of the Mont-Blanc has considerable consequences on the environment and on human health, the architectural reflexions are aimed at answering the issue of environmental protection. The conclusion will evoke the limits of the project. The originality and interest of this contribution is to use architecture (implementation, typology and material) to address these issues and to examine site-specific solutions in order to protect a given environment.

Presented at:
5th Symposium for Research in Protected Areas, Mittersil, Autriche, June 10-12, 2013

 Record created 2014-03-12, last modified 2019-01-18

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