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A new high point in Alpine architecture

They lie in picturesque natural surroundings, their guests are looking for an adventure in the unique landscape: mountain huts. But so far their architecture has been introvert. In the high mountainous regions, energy losses can only be stemmed with small openings. However, the Schiestlhaus, finished in 2005, proved for the first time that things can be different. Thanks in part to high-quality passive house windows, rooms that open up to the landscape and become part of it are also possible at extreme altitudes of 2154 metres.

The bedrooms and the living room benefit in particular from the new room quality. The dining area and recreation room is a generously sized room flooded with sunlight. Fritz Oettl, the project architect at pos architekten explains the effect: "A continuous bank of windows consisting of high-quality passive house windows with statically optimised pane sizes reveals a tremendous outlook. Thanks to the triple-pane glazing with no cold air downdraught and the optimised window construction with a low parapet, a high-quality seating area was also realised along the windows. This sense of space conveys a proximity to the surrounding nature and landscape that was previously not possible in any comparable building."

The bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows. The ascending roof pitch gives room heights of around four meters, meaning that up to eleven sleeping spaces can be offered across multiple levels in each room without any problem and without any compromises on privacy.

However, the Schiestlhaus is not just a new type of mountain hut from an architectural perspective: Thanks to the highly efficient building and energy concept, it has been possible for the first time to erect high-Alpine constructions without any direct power connection and to operate them compatibly from an economic and ecological perspective as a result of the low energy consumption. The design is consistently based on the use of solar energy. The building opens up to the south to capture the warmth of the sun. The fact that more heat is absorbed than released is a further feature to which the high thermal insulation windows contribute. The required energy is also obtained via fully integrated solar collectors. A rapeseed oil combined heat and power unit, a sophisticated ventilation system with 85% heat recovery and 100% rainwater usage ensure that from a technical point of view, the Schiestlhaus is an absolute pioneer.

Schiestlhaus, Am Hochschwab, Austria


Joint venture general planner: pos architekten ZT-KG (planning), Treberspurg&Partner ZT GmbH (tender and construction supervision)
Property type: Passive house standard
Use: Alpine hut
Year of construction: 2005