The Glacier Shelter Built from Nothing but Wood

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© Keystone © Keystone At an altitude of 2735m, architecture students at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have built The Bonatti Bivouc, a temporary refuge for the A Neuve’s glacier. The shelter uses the envelope as a structural object, eradicating the need for metal, screws, or nails. Informed by theoretical architect Semper, their design uses the joints to form a piece of architecture. Bonatti Bivouc was inspired by vernacular Swiss construction raccard so that the wood construction system of the shelter can survive these heights using the right insulation. The glacier poses much difficulty due to both the altitude and potential for glacial movements, therefore the structure has been made to be mountable and demountable to survive in such conditions. The design of the shelter was formed using parametric software, Grasshopper, to generate the seemingly complex system. By using such software, the students could adapt the structure to
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size all the planks accordingly for the final evolved form. Overall, the design took three weeks and the construction of the shelter took another ten days, all of which was performed by the architecture students using basic tools such as Japanese saws and wood chisels.

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Architects: EAST/EPFL
Lead Architects: Martin Frölich, Giulia Altarelli, Louhichi Younes (student), Enrico Chizzolini (student)
Location: EPFL (now), The A Neuve Glacier (July)
Year: 2017 (10 days construction)
Area: 4 m2
Other participants: Kimberley Anjali Berney, Laurent Jacques, Maximilien Soulier, Marta De Benito Ortiz De La Torre, Maseeh Takhtravanchi, Mathieu Michel Viennet, Noel Gustav, Napoleon Rydenvald Annell, Omar Imadiouni, Pénélope Florence, Françoise Escallier, Quentin Huegi, Raphael Bruno Delmuè, Salla Noora Sivunen, Samuel Sean Jaccard, Soukaïna Angela Richard, Vincent Bianchi
Photography: Keystone, Vianney Huart, David Barth

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