pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope

EX. completes pinwheel shelter at 3,000 meters in italian alps

 

EX., a design workshop founded by Andrea Cassi and Michele Versaci, completes a mountain bivouac at almost 3,000 meters of altitude in the north-western Italian Alps. Pinwheel Shelter is built in memory of Stefano Berrone and functions as a a fully reversible and foldable wooden and aluminum tent. This discreet intervention in the alpine landscape follows the analysis of sun exposure and wind directions, establishing a continuous dialogue between the architecture, the valley morphology, and its atmospheric agents. ‘The architecture primarily provides shelter and protection for alpinists, and at the same time helps to explore the relationship between an artificial structure and its natural environment. This investigation delves into the project’s long-term impact on the natural context and its interaction with the surrounding environmental conditions,’ shares the EX. team. 

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
all images courtesy EX.

 

 

foldable, lightweight, and reversible tent structure

 

Pinwheel Shelter is based on three key principles — the first being reversibility and lightness. Following that concept, the EX. studio designs the tent as a light, minimally invasive, and reversible structure composed of CLT panels and supported by a steel base resting on four prefabricated plinths. These features optimize weight and facilitate assembly and dismantling operations. The result is a dry system built in four days and easily dismountable. The second principle explores the relationship between architecture and landscape. Cassi and Versaci wanted to celebrate the alpine nature by enabling a 360-degree immersion thanks to four windows inserted in the tent’s multifaceted geometry. The aluminum shell defines an ‘atmospheric’ architecture, engaging in a dialogue with the alpine light, the colors of the rocks, and the surrounding snow slopes — creating a constant interplay of reflections and responds dynamically to changing weather conditions.

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
Pinwheel Shelter is a foldable wooden-aluminum tent structure

 

 

The last layer looks at the tent as a meeting place. A radial organization of space defines the position of the beds around a central compartment – a symbolic fireplace – following proportions that echo a tatami. The reduced internal height and the sloping roof have do not stand inside the bivouac: like in a tent, the alpinists must duck and either sit or lie down on the wide larch wood platform. ‘This spatial configuration resulted in eight/ten beds minimizing the shelter’s dimension, and particularly its height: the top point measures 2.80 meters corresponding to the top of the shell on the outside,’ notes the team. 

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
CLT panels and supported by a steel base resting on four prefabricated plinths

 

 

focusing on localization and territorial planning

 

Pinwheel Shelter sits in the Upper Susa Valley, specifically between the ridges of Mount Seguret and Valfredda, between the municipalities of Oulx and Bardonecchia. The localization responds to landscape logic and respects the distance from the skyline. Furthermore, it offers another stopover useful to the high-altitude paths that cross this zone frequently and are subject to thunderstorms and sudden meteorological changes. A few ruins are scattered around the Seguret valley, but no other structure sustains the mountaineering activity.

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
Pinwheel Shelter sits in the Upper Susa Valley,

 

 

The localization chosen defines a new base, reducing the distance between the Oulx and Bardonecchia valleys, and the other bivouacs situated both in the Galambra zone and in Vallone delle Monache. Together with the Sigot and Blais bivouacs and with the Valfredda shelter, this new structure adds a stopover along the Ambin Traverse — a hiking and ski-touring route going up from Rochemolles or Jaffreau to the Ambin Mount and then descending to the Clapier Pass. In other words, mountaineers get to choose an alternative path with an intermediate stop, reducing the distance between other supporting shelters. ‘The localization of the Pinwheel shelter answers territorial planning logistics, essential for the design and construction of emergency bivouacs, and has been defined with the participation of local authorities,’ concludes the project team. 

 

pinwheel-shelter-designboom-full-4

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
the design by EX. follows the analysis of sun exposure and wind directions

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
reduced internal height and a sloping roof

pinwheel-shelter-designboom-full-1

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
mountaineers can enjoy the scenic alpine views

pinwheel shelter emerges as a foldable wooden and aluminum tent on a remote alpine slope
Pinwheel Shelter sits almost at an altitude of 3,000 meters

pinwheel-shelter-designboom-full-5

 

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project info:

 

name: Pinwheel Shelter 

location: 

architect: EX. (here) | @studioex.space

design team: Andrea Cassi and Michele Versaci with Serena Giardina, Alberto Benetti (architectural design), GZMZ (renderings), Corrado Curti (structures), Guido Zanzottera (building envelope), Secondo Antonio Accotto (geological report), Paolo Bottino and Marco Trucano (Natural House)

wooden structure, envelope & installation: Natural House (Paolo Bottino, Giuseppe Bertetti, Marco Trucano, Roberto Merlo, Ullah Assad, Gianni Testa, Bottino Legnami, Wood House snc, Serramenti Casale); Mattia Moretto, Guido Ambrosiani, Alberto Pignata

foundations: Perfor (Fortunato Treve, Giorgio Pourpour, Sokol Krasniki) and Faure Calcestruzzi

transportations: Heli Aosta

completion date: October 2023

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