Self-Sustaining Mountain Hut Offers Salvation in More Ways Than One

Come on up — the air is fine

By The Editors
April 28, 2017 9:00 am

The Illa Mountain Hut has sat in a remote part of the Andorran Pyrenees in southwest Europe for more than half a century. But as tried-and-true as the shelter has become for off-grid travelers, it still has a few modern tricks up its sleeves — like the ability to generate four days of power thanks to its roof.

Four days doesn’t sound like much. But when you consider that structure was built in the 1930s and is subject to UNESCO World Heritage status, which means restrictions, and then you begin to see the challenge. Oh, and it’s located on the fourth highest peak in the jagged Pyrenees.

Redeveloping a building is difficult. There’s scrapping waste. There’s retrofitting materials to fit into the original design, which, in this case, was just a stone building.  

illan mountain lodge (3 images)

Add to that the bureaucracy of dealing with an international consortium of academics in at 8,000 feet above sea level, and you wonder: why the hell did someone decide to make this shelter eco-friendly?

It’s because eco-fitting is a fun and noble challenge that allowed the architects —  Arteks Arquitectura and Ginjaume Arquitectura i Paissatge — to flex their imaginations and work with a classic design to come up with something that nods to the region’s history.

In addition to installing a new ventilation system and insulation to combat extreme weather conditions, the architects reinforced the structure by extending the roof with a gable. And on the roof: the set of solar panels that give the building its off-grid capabilities.

Now … about getting there. That might be an eco-friendly bridge too far. 

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