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Alpine Shelter “AL Sasso Nero”

Spectacular Essentiality

STIFTER + BACHMANN

Alpine Shelter “AL Sasso Nero”
By Caterina Testa -

Located in the Province of Bolzano, the Aurina Valley is one of the most isolated and unspoiled mountain landscapes of Italy’s Trentino Alto Adige (South Tyrol) Region. In summer, the brilliant green of the valley climbs up the slopes to meet the uninterrupted dark green forests. In winter, the whole area is covered with a blanket of snow. The ever-constant landmarks, whatever the season, are the majestic mountains that protectively surround the valley. The area has remained largely under the radar of the main tourist flows. This has allowed it preserved its landscape and traditions intact, and develop a slower, more frugal - and more sustainable - approach to their main industry. In view of this and to support mountaineering and hiking, the Autonomous Province of Bolzano held a limited competition for a high-altitude (3,026 meter) mountain shelter to replace an older one that had fallen into disrepair. The winning entry was the spare powerful project by local architects Stifter+Bachmann. The total absence of urban or manmade elements at this altitude led the designers to base their contemporary program on the natural landscape. Mountaineers themselves, they were familiar with all the peaks of the area, their shapes and orientation. This led to the idea of the mountain hut as a new peak, another compact monolithic volume in the Valle Aurina mountain range. The wild impervious site called for the simplest of shapes, whose very simplicity would lend it a spectacular essentiality. Set into the rock, the volume is entirely clad in copper slabs. The initial reflective sheen will weather over time into a darker opaque hue that will blend with the brown stone of this part of South Tyrol. Now, the reddish-brown walls of the shelter - called “Al Sasso Nero” (At the Black Stone) - reflect the light like a rough-cut jewel. On a level with the first floor, an ample stretch of glazing wraps around the façades facing the valley. On the upper stories, small square windows mark...

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