Downhill Skiing Architecture Launch Delayed by Matterhorn Weather

A portable, solar-powered ski house will debut in 2024

Alpine World Cup grounds
A volunteer works in the finish area of the Zermatt-Cervinia downhill.
Manuel Schwarz/picture alliance via Getty Images

The effects of climate change on downhill skiing are well-documented at this point — so, in an ideal world, the architecture around the sport in question should have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible. And it’s with that in mind that the firm Ingenhoven Architects created a state-of-the-art start house for an event on the Matterhorn for this year’s Alpine Ski World Cup.

Writing at Dezeen, Kate Donaldson has more details of the building, which took some design cues from igloos – which seems understandable enough — and combined that aesthetic with green technology and a number of measures designed to make the whole thing portable. That includes an inflatable approach to the structure itself, which is stabilized by drilling into the ice below in a way that, Donaldson writes, won’t leave anything behind after it’s been removed.

Unfortunately, this structure won’t make its formal debut until next year’s Alpine Ski World Cup. Why? Well, it has to do with the unpredictability of the weather on the Matterhorn. Precipitation is good for getting snow on the mountain, and good for skiing there in the long run — but wind and heavy snow coinciding with the competition dates this year meant that the start house in question won’t make its formal debut until 2024.

All told, the structure weighs 600 kilograms — or a little over 1,300 pounds. A series of 40 solar panels placed atop the start house will provide power within. The firm told Dezeen that their goal was “a refined, minimalistic design blending seamlessly with the awe-inspiring alpine landscape” — a goal that they achieved with an aesthetic that feels both high-tech and cozy. And it all fits into four boxes once it’s ready to be transported.

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As the Associated Press reports, the downhill race in question was set to take place in mid-November at the Zermatt ski resort in Switzerland, on a course designed by Olympic gold medal winner Didier Defago. It’ll be one to watch when next year’s event comes around — as long as the weather is agreeable.

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