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  4. Slovenia
  5. OFIS Architects
  6. 2015
  7. Alpine Shelter Skuta / OFIS arhitekti + AKT II + Harvard GSD Students

Alpine Shelter Skuta / OFIS arhitekti + AKT II + Harvard GSD Students

  • 10:00 - 8 September, 2015
Alpine Shelter Skuta / OFIS arhitekti + AKT II + Harvard GSD Students
Alpine Shelter Skuta / OFIS arhitekti + AKT II + Harvard GSD Students, © Anze Cokl
© Anze Cokl

Construction Process. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects © Anze Cokl © Anze Cokl © Andrej Gregoric +54

  • Architects

  • Location

    Skuta, 4206 Zgornje Jezersko, Slovenia
  • Architects in Charge

    Rok Oman, OFIS architects; Spela Videcnik, OFIS architects
  • Harvard GSD Student Design Team

    Frederick Kim, Katie MacDonald, Erin Pellegrino
  • OFIS Architects Project Team

    Andrej Gregoric. Janez Martincic. Maria Della Mea, Vincenzo Roma, Andrea Capretti, Jade Manbodh, Sam Eadington
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

  • Structural Engineering

    AKT II, London, UK; Hanif Kara; Edward Wilkes
  • Local Structural Engineering

    Projecta, Milan Sorc
  • Engineering & Consulting

    Freeapproved, Anze Cokl
  • Realization & onsite Coordination

    PD Ljubljana Matica, Slovenia; Matevz Jerman; Davor Rozman
  • Façade – öko skin

    Rieder Smart Elements, Austria; Wolfgang Rieder; Matthias Kleibel
  • Glazing

    Guardian, USA; Domen Komac
  • Bivouac maintainance representatives

    Matevz Jerman; Davor Rozman
  • Principal Contractor

    Permiz d.o.o., Slovenia; Bostjan Perme
  • Anchors and Fixation

    Hilti, Slovenia
  • Thermal and fire safe insulations

    ROCKWOOL stone wool
  • Site Preparation and Construction Team

    Alpinist section PD Ljubljana Matica, Visinska dela Orti; Team: Matevz Jerman, Jernej Ortar, Blaz Ortar, Davor Rozman, Natasa Vodopivec, Matevz Kastrin, Boris Mance, Boris Bokavsek, Luka Klemencic, Ziga Asic, Jernej Knop, Anze Klaric, Uros Grilj, Marko Granda, Boštjan Oblak
  • Helicopter Flights

    Slovenian Army - Tomaz Perse, Primoz Pintar, Andrej Groselj, Peter Smrkolj; Support at Installation: Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia, GRZS - Brane Zorz, Tadej Mrak, Bojan Goli
  • Client

    PD Ljubljana Matica
  • More SpecsLess Specs
Existing Site. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects
Existing Site. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects

The project developed from an architectural design studio at the Harvard Graduate School of Design led by Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik from OFIS. In fall 2014, studios of thirteen students were facing the challenges of designing an innovative yet practical shelter to meet the needs of the extreme alpine climate. Inspired by the vernacular architecture of Slovenia with its rich and diverse architectural heritage, the students produced twelve proposals meeting various site conditions, material considerations, and programmatic concerns were produced and cataloged.

Volume Modelling Diagram
Volume Modelling Diagram
Functional Program Diagram
Functional Program Diagram

The extreme climatic conditions in the mountains introduce a design challenge for architects, engineers and designers.

Within a context of extreme risk to environ­mental forces, it is important to design buildings that can withstand extreme weather, radical temperature shifts, and rugged terrain. Responding to envi­ronmental conditions is not only a protective measure, but also translates into a matter of immediate life safety. The harsh conditions of wind, snow, landslides, terrain, and weather require a response of specific architectural forms and conceptual designs.

Existing Site. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects
Existing Site. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects
© Andrej Gregoric
© Andrej Gregoric

120 years after the installation of Aljaz Tower in August of 1985 on Triglav*, this new shelter was placed below Mountain Skuta in Kamnik Alps. It is replacing a 50 year old bivouac that had previously been on the site.

The bivouac is an object that represents a basic human necessity, a shelter. It is a symbol of refuge. The outer form and choice of materials were chosen to respond the extreme mountain conditions, and also provide views to the greater landscape.

© Janez Martincic
© Janez Martincic

Its position within the wilderness requires respect for natural resources, therefore must meet the ground in a light and firm manner to ensure the shelter is strongly anchored while having a minimal impact on the ground. In addition, the outer shell needed to be realised with a highly resistant material and in collaboration with Rieder  thin glass fibre öko skin concrete elements  were able to meet all the requirements of aesthetics, material quality and the challenge of being able to withstand especially rigorous weather conditions.

Furniture Axon
Furniture Axon

The design of the interior dictates modesty, totally subordinate to the function of the shelter providing accommodation for up to eight mountaineers.

Informed by traditional alpine architecture, building elements, materials, structure and form, the design scheme by students Frederick Kim, Katie MacDonald and Erin Pellegrino was selected. After conclusion of the academic semester, OFIS architects and structural engineers  AKT ll continued to and develop and adapt the form to the given site, responding to further input from the mountaineers, Anze Cokl, Milan Sorc and other engineers and lead the project throughout the realization planning phase.

Carriage and Location Diagram
Carriage and Location Diagram
Construction Process. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects
Construction Process. Image Courtesy of OFIS Architects

The design consists of three modules, in part to allow for transport and also to programmatically divide the space. The first is dedicated to the entrance, storage and a small space for the preparation of food. The second one provides space for both, sleeping and socializing while the third features a bunk sleeping area. Windows at both ends offer beautiful panoramic views of the valley and Skuta Mountain. 

© Janez Martincic
© Janez Martincic

Due to the nature of the installation process, the shelter was designed as a series of modules so that it could be brought to the mountain in parts. The entire prototype was constructed off-site in the workshop. The modules were planned as a series of robust frames, which would then be braced together onsite providing a manageable installation and a less invasive foundation. In order to keep the mountain site as undisturbed as possible, the modules are fastened onto strategically placed pin connections, which also act as the foundation on the site. The glass is a triple pane system that has been calculated to withstand to the projected strong wind and snow loads. Installation of the bivouac was carried out by PD Ljubljana Matica under the direction of Matevz Jerman, helicopter transport while the Slovenian Armed Forces and a team of Mountain Rescue Service - station Ljubljana. The whole transportation and installation process was carried out in one day.

© Andrej Gregoric
© Andrej Gregoric

Although the scale of the bivouac is small, the project required a lot of effort and planning from over sixty participants who were mostly volunteers and sponsors. All would agree that, despite the small size, it was no less demanding than any large building project. However, all of the effort and planning for this small scale project is meant to keep the memory, spirit and culture of the mountains as a special place for Slovenians. The hope is that the bivouac will serve as a shelter for all of the climbers who need it, and that through their care and attention the bivouac will continue to do so for many years.

© Anze Cokl
© Anze Cokl
Detailed Floor Plan
Detailed Floor Plan

* The highest mountain in Slovenia and the highest peak of the Julian Alps. The mountain is the pre-eminent symbol of the Slovene Nation. It is the centerpiece of the Triglav National Park, Slovenia's only national park.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Alpine Shelter Skuta / OFIS arhitekti + AKT II + Harvard GSD Students" 08 Sep 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


massa · January 09, 2017

Thanks for this post! But, what is the exact position of this shelter (gps)? Or are there some route-discriptions? Thank you so much for your answer!

Maggie Speirs · March 21, 2016

I would love to stay in it but I'm
not sure the climb is within my pay grade!!

29 design · September 11, 2015

what an amazing school project! must have been quite an experience to be part of it, and to have it be realized. architecture schools should do more of this!

Empress Kray Kray de 3rd · September 10, 2015

It's sort of pointless

Nick Clark · September 24, 2015 06:17 AM

It's an emergency shelter, how is that pointless?

boo · September 08, 2015

just because it's possible doesn't mean it should be done.


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