Mountain Shelter by Michele Versaci

Mountain Shelter is a bivouac at high altitude, a few metres from summit Dormillouse (2908 mslm) on the border between Italy and France, in the upper Valle di Susa. It has been designed in 2019 by Michele Versaci.

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About Mountain Shelter

A Majestic Tribute: The Matteo Corradini Bivouac

Nestled within the alpine backdrop, the Matteo Corradini bivouac stands as a striking black opaque structure. It’s an optical marvel stretching towards the horizon, constructed in mere days using a lightweight, reversible system. This Swiss pine haven introduces a new destination at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) altitude.

Born from love and remembrance, Paolo Corradini and family envisioned this project to honor Matteo, a devoted mountaineer.

Embodying Nature’s Energy: A High-Altitude Opaque Body

In physics, a black body fully absorbs energy, later releasing it into its surroundings. Perched near the summit’s final slopes, Bivacco Matteo Corradini emerges as a hexagonal dark prism harmonizing with the alpine vista. Its metallic shell, resilient against extreme altitudinal weather, maximizes solar radiation absorption.

The chosen materials and design resonate with the rugged surroundings: dark rocky crests, grassy terrains, and snow-blanketed slopes in winter. It subtly integrates, offering fresh perspectives on the natural panorama.

Echoing Alpine Tradition: The Wooden Heart

Boasting effective insulation, the exterior’s design protects the Swiss pine-clad inner chamber. Historically, alpine artisans favored this wood for cradles and bedroom interiors due to its aromatic quality and workability.

Inside, wooden steps flank the central table, transforming into sleeping spaces at night. These structures offer daytime seating, overlooking the mountain’s gradient. It’s a snug, communal hub for mountaineers at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level.

Architectural Vision: Landscape’s Optical Lens

Molded to accentuate the surrounding beauty, the bivouac boasts two expansive windows, reminiscent of telescopes or camera lenses. These openings frame northern Val Thuras and southern Ecrins massif views, respectively.

Sustainable Assembly & Minimal Impact

Positioned to adapt to the mountain’s slope, the bivouac minimizes land usage. Emphasizing reversibility and eco-consciousness, its design incorporates lightweight, sustainable elements.

Achieving this vision involved wooden prefabrication, enabling swift onsite assembly. After workshop pre-construction, helicopter transport delivered modules for high-altitude reassembly. This method prioritized weight and shape efficiency, reducing aerial transportation needs.

An Alpine Destination: Bivouac’s Prime Location

Situated meters from Dormillouse summit at 2,908 mslm (9,541 feet), the Matteo Corradini bivouac overlooks upper Valle di Susa. As a hot spot for ski mountaineering, the Val Thuras and Dormillouse stand out in the valley. Its placement on this scenic pass makes it an ideal refuge for mountaineers and trekkers alike, granting them shelter after their uphill journeys.

Photography by Michele Versaci and Andrea Cassi

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- by Matt Watts