solar4.alpine - an integrated concept for an ecological alpine refuge hut based on solar energy

Short Description




Starting Point

Alpine refuge huts are the most common examples of "island buildings" that can be found in Austria and the Alpine Regions of Europe. They have a long tradition in our country and there are more than 500 of them in Austria alone, run by different alpine organisations. Most of them are situated far away from civilisation, and access to electricity, water and canalisation therefore causes environmental problems. During the last few years walking and climbing has became more popular, and, consequently, the huts more frequented by more people. Now these problems really are unavoidable, and an effort must be made to solve them. There are many small steps currently being taken, especially in the fields of electricity, heating and (warm) water supply, but most of these single projects don't meet the complexity of all the problems to be solved.

Project Objectives

The basic idea is to provide and use autarkic energy supply systems for such isolated places of difficult access, high ecological sensibility and greater solar exposure. The present project should show an integrated design connecting and optimising all available technical possibilities and providing ecological and sustainable building maintenance.

Sustainable Focus & Contents

The project's goal is to attain almost autarkic building maintenance, meaning that most of the electric energy should be produced by solar panels. In terms of heating and warm water supply, as well as design and insulation, the building follows the guidelines of passive houses.
The comfort standard should not be higher than basic, according to the limiting conditions of the special geographic and ecological situation.

The building's use requires flexibility. According to weather and seasons, the building's frequentation will not be constant. Therefore the building is split up into 2 thermal zones: the basic central supply zone and an additional zone surrounding the central area that will be heated only when needed, in order to save energy wherever possible.

Expected achievements & applications

In general this pilot project could increase the environmental consciousness of people who enjoy 'unspoiled' nature, and also work as a signal for future building concepts. Though it seems to be a very specialised building concept for very particular locations, it could be an outstanding representative for "island buildings" and a demo-project for other buildings with various uses.


The prototype of an ecological alpine refuge hut is meant to be applied as a replacement of an old, non-restorable building which does not work ecologically. The location that has been chosen is the "Schiestl-Haus" on the "Hochschwab mountain" in Styria (approx. height above sea level: 2100m). In that particular case one of the most important aspects will be water protection, because this mountain area is one of the main water sources for the supply of the 2 cities of Vienna and Graz. Therefore it must be well protected against any kind of pollution.

Project Partners

Marie Rezac
Diploma student in architecture

Dr. DI Karin Stieldorf
Assistant at the Department for building construction and design

Arch. DI Fritz Oettl
"Oettl & Schneider" Architects

Arch. Dr. Martin Treberspurg


Maria-Treugasse 3/15
A 1080 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 409 52 65-0
Fax: +43 1 409 52 65 -99