Harvard GSD Talk and Exhibition "Housing in Extreme Environments: Alpine Shelter" Opens Tomorrow

Harvard GSD Talk and Exhibition "Housing in Extreme Environments: Alpine Shelter" Opens Tomorrow

The extreme climatic conditions of the North introduce a design paradox for architects. The fragile environmental conditions require incisive designs that respond to irregular loading from strong winds, heavy snowfalls, avalanche risk zones, and extreme cold. The studio investigated a prototypical design: a unit with sleeping and cooking space for up to eight people, on a mountain site in Slovenia. The talk (on Friday, February 13th) serves as an opening for the exhibition on this project, curated by Spela Videcnik, John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Housing and Urban Development, with Rok Oman, featuring the work of her Fall 2014 studio, displayed on the Experiments Wall (in Gund Hall). Construction of the shelter is planned for summer 2015.

“Harvard Graduate School of Design provided an option studio during the fall of 2014 which dealt with this ongoing issue of housing in the North. Students questioned and researched traditional European alpine settlements in attempt to pose new solutions to contemporary architecture within a North American context. One of the prototypes, an Alpine Shelter that was developed inside the studio will be built on real site bellow the highest mountain Triglav in Slovenia. Currently there is exhibition of the prototypes and the research at Harvard Graduate School of Design Gund Hall. The topic will be introduced and discussed at lecture on February 13th by one of the instructors of the studio, Spela Videcnik from OFIS arhitekti.”

Within a context of extreme risk to environmental forces, it is important to design buildings within the system that the surrounding environment has mandated. Responding to environmental conditions is not only a protective measure, but also benefits future generations. In the midst of dramatic climate shifts, housing design translates into a matter of immediate life safety for existing populations. In response to these deficiencies, the design of remote settlements in the North must be constructed in accordance with ideas of self-sufficiency and supplementary back-up energy systems. Many vernacular building traditions can serve as a reference for designing environments that are holistically sustainable within the extreme climatic conditions, challenging comfortable human habitation in the North.

© Harvard GSD, photography courtesy Justin Knight

Studio Tutors: 

  • Rok Oman
  • Spela Videcnik

Technology advisor: 

  • Hanif Kara

Teaching Associate:

  • Josh Schecter

Workshop Instructors: 

  • Hanif Kara, Structure
  • Klaus Mayer, Environmental Context
  • Wolfgang Rieder, Intelligent Skins


  • Myrna Ayoub
  • Oliver Bucklin
  • Zheng Cui
  • Frederick Kim
  • Katie MacDonald
  • Lauren McClellan
  • Michael Meo
  • Erin Pellegrino
  • Nadia Perlepe
  • Elizabeth Pipal
  • Tianhang Ren
  • Xin Su
  • Elizabeth Wu

© Harvard GSD, photography courtesy Justin Knight
© Harvard GSD, photography courtesy Lauren McClellan

Press release via Harvard GSD

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Cite: "Harvard GSD Talk and Exhibition "Housing in Extreme Environments: Alpine Shelter" Opens Tomorrow" 12 Feb 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/598467/harvard-gsd-talk-and-exhibition-housing-in-extreme-environments-alpine-shelter-opens-tomorrow> ISSN 0719-8884

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