Modern insulation creates a cosy refuge for hikers and mountaineers
Slovenia’s Kamnik-Savinja alps are a popular destination for lovers of the outdoors. With stunning views and many peaks, they are beautiful to visit but can be a forbidding place to stay. The average annual temperature at 2,000 metres is around freezing level, and in winter it can drop as low as -20°C, with high winds and snow on the ground for over six months of the year. Hikers had long been able to take temporary or overnight refuge in a small shelter beneath Mount Skuta, but this old structure was in need of replacement.
The solution came from a team of students at Harvard Graduate School of Design, who had been tasked with designing a practical shelter for an extreme environment. Working with local architects OFIS, they completed the new project in 2016. Few locations can be more spectacular and exposed than the vertiginous site the new shelter perches on; yet few mountain refuges offer the shelter and comfort of the Skuta Hut.
ROCKWOOL contributed to the project with its Airrock product. This makes it possible for people to stay safe and comfortable in an unheated structure while the mountain weather rages outside. It was the ideal material for the project: light to transport (the building was partially pre-fabricated and lifted onto the mountain by an army helicopter); non-hygroscopic, so it resists condensation and thermal bridges; and easy to fit. Most importantly, stone wool keeps people comfortable whatever the weather. It retains its properties over its long service life regardless of temperature, maintaining a thermal conductivity of 0.035 W/mK. And as a non-combustible substance, it acts as a fire barrier too.
As Janez Martinčić, Senior Project Leader at OFIS architects says, our stone wool was the perfect fit for the project: “The extreme climatic conditions in the mountains introduce a design challenge for architects, engineers and designers. ROCKWOOL products and its philosophy of providing solutions that are natural, durable while securing firesafe and thermal protection, even in the harshest conditions, fitted perfectly in our project”.
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