Altitude: architecture et environnement de haute montagne

At the centre of the research is the preservation of the countryside which is highlighted and studied through an architectural approach which focuses on cabins in the high mountains. The projects must reflect upon territorial, global and sustainable aspects in order to counteract anthropic pressure occurring in the Alps due to the ‘democratisation’ of alpinism and touristic exploitation, which give rise to inadequate human behaviour in their surroundings. Restoring part of the alpine heritage is underway. It requires complex reflection on the development of building in high mountain areas (size, shape, level of comfort
) and, more generally, on the relationship between mountaineers and the mountains. This investigation, concentrating on cabins in high mountain areas in Switzerland, has as its objective to demonstrate the potential of architecture to provide answers to the paradoxical search for balance between development and the protection of the mountain territory. Three hypotheses of research are put forward. The first is that the ubiquitous landscape must play a constitutive role in the mountain refuge project. The second is that a territorial reflection on the area must restore the feeling of ascent in the design of the cabins, especially through risk assessment. Finally, the contextualising of the constructions must go back to the basic use of a cabin (shelter, rest and protection) while favouring a level of comfort that is adapted to the surroundings, which is currently a sign of displaced city life. This study is focused on two scales of analysis, which represent the structure of this work: landscape and construction. They provide the opportunity to develop graphic representations, which are specific to the architect, that are adapted to the defined needs of this research. The graphic production of the territorial study provides the opportunity to abstract the altimetry of the Swiss territory and to give a differentiated reading of alpine geography and the impact of construction on the mountain tops. It is also a means by which to demonstrate that walking is a tool for understanding the surroundings and these findings must be included in architectural projects so that they fit in with the landscape. Contextualisation is compounded by the introduction of architectural choices in the intrinsic character of ‘high risk environments’ in the mountains. The constraint of risks becomes a design tool for a better assessment of the area by avoiding any strengthening of the idea of human supremacy in alpinists. Architectural study, historic and morphological evolution, shows the existence of a certain type whose marginalisation cannot negate its constructive interest, theoretical and analytically generalisable to the architecture of plains. The simplicity of the solutions hides a spatial and structural experimental rationalisation, which responds to the constraints of the area. The tendency towards uniformity in indoor spaces is questioned so as to find a phenomenological design that offers comfort that is adapted to the place, with the aim of making its users conscious of their surroundings. This contextualisation, which is territorial, architectural and spatial, helps in defining the type of cabin for the high mountains and gives rise to a study of a particular territory in order to influence human behaviour. This research asserts that architecture contributes to the development and protection of the high mountains in a way that is both global and reasonable.


Advisor(s):
Ortelli, Luca
Year:
2016
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis7089-7
Laboratories:


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 Record created 2016-11-15, last modified 2019-12-05

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