The autumn is maybe the epoch of the year the most related to the mountain, before the winter when it begins the intense cold and the forests show an unsurpassable image. A type of architecture that is tied intimately to this activity, that of the refuge of mountain. The architects who investigated the minimal working housing, and the solutions standardized to give fitted the cheap housing of quality investigated this type of architectures of mountain. It might seem a priori that both worlds are very remote, but the certain thing is that his theoretical exposition is similar. Somehow the refuges of mountain are the way that the man has of domesticating the nature, of turning into servant a hostile environment, but in turn so present into our animal genetics, since it is the relation of the man with the nature.
In 1952 Le Corbusier, the great teacher of the modern movement, constructs in Cap-Martin, on the Mediterranean French coast the Cabanon, a small refuge that is at the same time a housing vacation. A cabin of only 16 square meters realized completely in wood. This place of retirement and in occasions office, Corbusier incites a particular interest inside the work of Him since it was realized in parallel to Chandigarh’s project, the construction of a city in the India in conclusion of the construction of the Unit of Room of Marseilles.
A similar case is that of Ralph Erskine, when the architect Englishman moved in 1941 with his wife and his daughters newborn children to Sweden, the economic difficulties took him to car a small refuge to be constructed to give cover to his family and to use it in addition as office.
With a few minimal dimensions, of only 18 square meters and the only room, it worked as habitual housing of the family until 1946. The interior space was dividing in two by means of a central chimney, the kitchen and to be, that also was doing the times of bedroom and room of work. The bed, sofa that was occupying to be was getting up by means of a few pulleys up to the ceiling, in order to clear the stay during the day.
The house raised in the high zone of a small hill is in addition a catalogue of ingenious solutions to protect the interior comfort of the inclemencies of the time. The furniture in the main flip-top and mobile rest on the north front increasing when they are gathered the thermal isolation in this orientation. The small cabin introduces in his design in addition present solutions in the traditional architecture, since it is the showy re-thickness of the north front in that to store the whole fuelwood for the winter, increasing the protection opposite to the wind and that will remain empty after the winter refreshing this way the housing in the summers months.
Ralph Erskine brought together modernity with the constructive local solutions, generating an ultramodern architecture that respects the local determining ones since it are the climatology or the enjoyment of a nature as wild as the Swedish one.
The contemporary architecture also has worked this type programmes. A good example is the refuge finished recently by the Norwegian study Snøhetta. A pavilion treats itself thought exclusively to give cover to the montañeros that pass along Dorve’s plateau in the north of Norway and that under a very cold climate enter the nature to see the daily life of the wild reindeers.
The small building of 90 square meters places inside the nature reserve Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella’s and raised in a plateau to a height of 1200 meters on the level of the sea, transforms in an observatory with conference panoramic on the covered with snow mountain chains of the nature reserve.
His geometry is a reminiscence of the form of a rock slowly eroded by the processes of wind and the water. The wavy resultant front believes a series of seats outdoors in the south side for what they are warmed by the sunbeams, whereas those of the north side stay to the interior protected from the climate for a glass screen that serves as viewing-point. The building has been constructed by technologies of naval construction, very developed by the Norwegian shipyards, with this technology every girder of square wood has acquired some polish up to giving him his definitive form and reaching this way by means of the sum of diverse pieces the undulating final effect. A rigid rectangular frame redressed in rusty steel fuses with the surrounding landscape, whereas the treatment tarred of the exterior pine beside acting as protection of the wood provides to the set of a formal cubic purity that reveals his modernity.
This building speaks as many other pavilions of mountain, of the need to generate cover and refuge to the montañero, of creating a space to the security of the inclemencies of the nature, but that at the same time allows us to enjoy the landscape and his wild condition. It is in this difficult balance where the contemporary architecture has could contribute new solutions that do not do any more that to open as the pavilions of the past small fields of test that maybe in the future could go on from the refuge of mountain to the urban housing.
íñigo garcía odiaga . architect
san sebastián. juny 2011
Article is published in ZAZPIKA 2011.11.07