The Cooper Union
School of Architecture

Alpine Hut Sustainable Building System

The open earth level retains the ground surface natural features and is primarily an exterior space passing through the structure. Integrated with the natural terrain are delineated exterior use areas and individual enclosures that house the office and group use functions. The group use enclosures are climate regulated, all other areas at the earth level are open.

Above is the solarium walkway and the sleeping cabins. The walkway, a glass enclosed circulation zone, has louvered protected glass at the roof level and an operable glass enclosure under the roof. The solarium walkway is accessed by stairs and ramp and has defined common areas where cabin users can gather. The cabins, (2 to 8 persons) have basic fixtures- fold down bunk beds, night sink, writing table and locker space.

The cabins are pre-fabricated, independent structural units transported to the site in two sections by helicopter or truck. Fabricated from engineered stress skin assemblies, the sidewalls of the cabins are plywood, hex reinforced insulation and exterior zinc cladding. The infill between the sidewalls are translucent insulated panels with operable transparent sashes. The solarium walkway and cabins spaces are climate regulated.

The south sloping roof plane is a variable function solar array that incorporates photovoltaic panels, thermal panels, transparent glass panels and cutouts open to the sky. The photovoltaics support a 12-volt electrical system that supplies the hut’s electric needs, the thermal panels generate heated air and water (stored in the masonry piers) and regulate interior space temperatures. The transparent glass areas support passive solar to critical zones. Rainwater and snowmelt water will be collected from 100% of roof surface area and stored in various cisterns, at various heights, for different uses. The roof assembly provides shaded and weather protected outdoor use areas.

The modular planning and construction methods of the Alpine Hut Sustainable Building System are designed to have minimum impact on the surface features and the system will employ state of the art sustaible practices and technologies. The system is adaptable to a variety of site conditions. Surface features can be worked around using alternate configurations and by spanning over sensitive terrain and vegetation. The system supports flexibility with regards to program, size and use demands and allows for phasing and future expansion.

Professor, Proportional-Time Faculty