Diana Köhler

Diana Köhler

Mountain Cabin. RWTH Aachen (Germany)

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Since my childhood hiking has been an important nature experience for me. Leaving the valley, being exhausted and strained by the altitude, experiencing loneliness and silence – together these are like a short-term therapy for me. Even if it is only a short weekend in the mountains, these days are of more value than a week's holiday. The best moment is the discovery of the mountain cabin for the first time after hours of hiking. Spotting the hut behind a ridge or between tree tops. Then trying not to lose sight of it. A cabin promises protection, rest and community during my trek through the barren landscape.

To protect and preserve nature no new mountain huts are built in the Alps. But what happens to the cabins that are ailing? What happens to the places that are no longer used and left to the nature? One of these sites is located at the western end in the Carnic Alps, directly at the border of Italy and Austria. The first cabin on the main ridge, which was built in 1889 at panoramic Monte Elmo, is the Helmhütte.

Today, the roof has partially collapsed, parts of the plaster were removed from the rain and all openings are locked. However this site is integrated into a network of trails and huts and there is a uniquely beautiful panoramic view into the Dolomites which calls for a redevelopment of this cabin as a refuge.

In my concept, the ailing roof is removed. Thereby, the basement serves as the new foundation. Like the traditional carpenters style the major expansion is a construction system in wood. In this way, no new elaborate foundation has to be made in the rocks. The system-construction can be easily transported by a helicopter and quickly assembled on site. A revival of this unique place can take place as the cabin is designed as a place of retreat for hikers.





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