location: Kleines Matterhorn, Switzerland
students: Students of TU Munich and ETH Lucerne
Yann Friedl, Felix Häusler, Christian Heck
Christine Neumann, Florian Uhl, Vitus Erni
Stefan Gassmann, Daniel Schatzmann
Christian Schmidiger, David Schneeberger
teaching team: Prof. Richard Horden
‘Peak Lab’ is a forward-looking, interdisciplinary and international model for the combination of teaching and research. For this project architectural students from Lucerne and Munich as well as mechanical engineering students from the HTA Lucerne worked together on a very complex conceptual formulation and everybody profited from the different competencies, experiences and backgrounds of the others. The aim of the project is to develop a spacious attractive ‘camp’, using light construction methods, which includes areas for working and living, has self supply and disposal, is simple to mount and demount, and has a self-sufficient energy supply. And it should do these things in the extreme climate of 4000m on the ‘Kleines Matterhorn’, near Zermatt.
This extreme situation with its extraordinary conditions requires just such new and innovative solutions. Prefabrication is necessary since it is only possible to build in this high alpine region for fifty days of the year. Factory assembly also guarantees a high standard of the manufacturing precision and less pollution produced during difficult site construction. The vertical stratification of the ‘Peak lab’ combines several advantages. The risks of rock-falls and snowdrifts are minimized, and there are aerodynamic benefits to the design.
The site is also perfect for a vertical structure in other ways. The rock stands at an almost a 90-degree angle, with the sun shining against it for most of the day. Direct sunlight is a very important element in this project because all of the power is generated by solar cells. These cells are evaporated directly onto the skin and are formative to the appearance of the building. Access to the building is from a small path that leads down from an observation platform at the top of the mountain. Finally this high-tech, low-impact facility offers wonderful views to the Breithorn and the Copa di Rolin’. The horizontal and vertical dimensions of the ‘Peak lab’ are very small, the available space has to be used in an optimal way. So the human scale was decisive for the design of the interior. The space for movement depends on the dimensions of the human body with certain lengths and radii of its extremities. The basic shape of the furniture is deliberately asymmetric in order to widen some spaces and provides zones for movement.
Just like the single modules, which are stacked to create the ‘Peak lab’, the furniture hangs backwards on a supporting system. It is mobile, so each room can be used for various activities. A ladder connects the modules vertically, in keeping with the principle of climbing on the mountain. The cliff-side facade is opened partially and offers views to the rock.