10 new bivouacs in the Alps

Bivouacs embody the quintessence of essential living and experimentation, with shapes that emancipate themselves from picturesque imitations of traditional structures.

Despite the fact that the recent pandemic has discouraged all proximity between individuals – which is the key element of the typical mountain “shelters”, where spaces are narrow and shared, in order to optimize space, heat, and materials – the mountain is still the open space par excellence: a place where social distancing and isolation are easy to maintain, and where, at the same time, it’s easy to get in touch with the natural environment.

Immersed in this context, bivouacs embody the quintessence of the challenge of essential living in extreme conditions, and it is right in the essentiality of the functional and performance requirements that lies the extraordinary charm of these places. They are all declined in a variety of abstract forms, but none of them tries to mimic the surroundings or to follow the picturesque imitation of traditional buildings on lower heights.

Many recent realizations in the Alps are characterized by an extensive experimental focus on finding innovative technical/architectural and formal solutions. However, in the majority of today’s structures, we are seeing a trend that favors a more "low tech" design approach, with technologies that are already well established and often more cost-effective.

High altitudes therefore represent an avant-garde "laboratory" for architecture and construction, capable of intercepting and interpreting changes in the environmental and cultural context, addressing many current issues such as the relationship with the landscape, the search for technical and material solutions, energy supply and management, reversibility, the economic and social sustainability of interventions.

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