Thursday, 10 July 2014

Redefining the Ski Alpine Empire of Switzerland

Environmental design excerpt. From ELEVEN.
Long Section Detail. From ELEVEN.

What will ski resorts look like in a future where it doesn’t snow? As the climate warms up, the character of snow is being transformed from a natural phenomenon to a manufactured commodity.  The Swiss ski industry has responded to the loss of snowfall by retreating to the upper reaches of the Alps. Whilst guaranteeing long ski seasons, the additional infrastructure required to sustain this remote touristic enterprise creates significant burdens.

The Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise compounds the urban and alpine landscapes, redefining the ski empire of Switzerland in a warmer world where snow is scarce. Draped over the centre of the city, the Snow Mountain creates a unique skiing experience for both tourists and the inhabitants of Bern. The Mountain is not a solution to the problems facing the entire ski alpine empire, nor is it a replacement for what has been lost. It proposes a new way of building both cities and ski resorts. Through the use of environmental technologies and spatial interventions, the city becomes an ideal place for an artificial snow dependent ski resort to thrive.

Not only can the skiing experience be radically altered by this proposal, the experience of the city is also redefined. The environmental benefits of using snow to provide thermal comfort for inhabitants of the city are vast. The light and spatial qualities within the Snow Mountain are a spectacle that transforms the city over which it is placed and the seasons are accentuated and heightened by the proposal.

The Alpine Urban Compound. Bern Old Town.

Zermatt ski landscape. From thesis.

Vulnerable ski resort locations in Switzerland. From thesis.
Canton of Bern ski resort map. From thesis.
Detail of plan of the Old Bern Snow Mountain paradise. From thesis.
Hydro infrastructure. From thesis.
Ice tower construction strategy. From thesis.
Snow making strategy. From Thesis.
Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise. Plan Detail.
Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise. Plan detail.
Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise. Section Detail.
On the South Face of the Mountain: The Mini-Matterhorn Ski World

Mountain Poster
Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise. Topographical plan.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Old Bern Snow Mountain Paradise

What will ski resorts look like when it doesn't snow anymore? Climate change is threatening the existence of the Swiss ski industry and, beyond a managed decline, there are few options. By colliding the artificial Alpine environment with the artificial urban environment, a different understanding of the city emerges.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Snow Accumulating Fields

Biscayne Bay Hidden Systems Map

Floridian Vernacular and the Air Conditioner

Cafe render, under the cardboard jacket

Air-conditioning has transformed the built environment of America. The vernacular architecture of Florida, formed by the passive techniques that control the climate, has been replaced by suburban split level homes. The south beach bakery uses a damp cardboard jacket that generates the climatic conditions demanded by the processes carried out within. It behaves as an inhabitable building fabric, enveloping the cooled spaces used for the preparation of dough and the cooling of bread. This project celebrates Florida's love of air-conditioning but challenges the routine method of how it is achieved. 

South Beach Bakery - Axo

South Beach Bakery - Section
South Beach Bakery - First Floor

In addition to allowing people to stay cool in the evening breeze, the porch served as a space around which neighbourhoods formed. With the gradual introduction of conditioning these social areas became redundant, as people chose to stay inside and enjoy their refrigerated houses.
Modern vs Vernacular Floridian Architecture

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Beijing acts as a good bookend to my trip, a 20 Million person bookend. In comparison to the tales of China's mega-cities, Beijing appears to be relatively sedate and low-rise with surprisingly little smog. Along with the colossal Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the narrow winding alleys known as Hutongs make Beijing a fascinating city to explore. However, this also serves as a reminder that despite the advanced infrastructure projects, China is still a country with many people living in poverty, these Hutongs are cramped and have no working toilets or running water.
Along with these popular tourist attractions, I also set out to try and find some of the more unusual or surreal constructions that are the inevitable unconscious products of a city the size of Beijing. This included "Wonderland", a disney-style amusement park on the outskirts of the city. Construction was halted for various reasons in the late 90s and now all that remains are a few fantasy castles scattered across a field. On the way to Wonderland I passed row after row of concrete apartment buildings under construction allowing me to wonder around a deserted city with 4 lane boulevards leading nowhere.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


At first glance Novosibirsk would appear to have little to offer to tourists, on closer inspection it is revealed that this is indeed true. The third largest city in Russia, Novosibirsk does provide an idea of what life is like in most typical cities in the country. Young, well-dressed people eating in sushi restaurants mixed with soviet legacy infrastructure and tenement buildings. There are still a few surviving wooden houses and churches spread around the outskirts but for the most-part the city is void of travellers. 

So when the Trans-Mongolian pulled up in the deserted Novosibirsk Station at 11pm it was a pleasant surprise to see my carriage was full of mostly British backpackers all drinking Chinese beer as the train tore across the wastes of Siberia. This surreal experience grew deeper as everyone developed an indifference to time and space. Stretching my legs on a platform during a quick stop I realised I didn't really care which time-zone I was in or what the name of the city was. This continued for 4 nights, watching the landscape subtly change from forest to fields to the edge of the Gobi desert. 

I had always expected this journey would provide me with an overwhelming respect for the scale of the earth. However, it isn't long before we're passing through the suburbs of Beijing, I've travelled to the other side of the planet and from here the world seems small.

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