Various legends are told about the Ruitor, a glacier on the border between Italy and France. Here on this mountain, they say, the fields would remain white for eternity, because the owner of a farm ordered his workers to throw out all the milk from his flock rather than share it with a passing beggar. Today, that spilled milk is a perennial glacier. And it’s in this magical location – in the Italian commune of La Thuile, to be precise – where the first bivouac dedicated to Edoardo Camardella is to be built. A young mountaineer and ski instructor, Camardella perished in an avalanche on November 30, 2019.
The building, designed entirely by Progetto CMR, was conceived to withstand its challenging location at eleven thousand feet. Besides using green, energetically self-sufficient materials, the structure is therefore light. At present, the bivouac has been fully engineered but is still under construction and yet to be assembled onsite. It is planned, however, that it will be built in the town of La Thuile in December, so that people will be able to visit it before it finally goes into service. Let’s take a look at how the structure was created, how it will be taken to the site (there are no adequate roads), and the innovative technologies it uses.
The designers say that the assembly phase will be completed in a few days and will take place once all the components are completed. The structure is, in fact, designed to be easily transported by helicopter and then assembled onsite. The design includes a large glazed wall facing Mont Blanc. There will also be a weather station with a 360 degree webcam, which will be the highest in the Graian Alps and one of the highest in Europe. A bas-relief is to be created on one wall of the bivouac dedicated to the story behind the project and all those companies and people who have worked towards making it happen.
I knew Edoardo Camardella well and shared his passion for the mountains and skiing. His premature death was a tragedy, and being able to donate this project to the Commune of La Thuile, which will be built thanks to the commitment of Edoardo’s parents, is, for me, a tribute to the memory of this extraordinary young man – Massimo Roj, CEO of the integrated design company.
To avoid any kind of unforeseen events during assembly at high altitude, the bivouac is being built in a factory. Its energy performance and the structural integrity of the building envelope are being fully tested. The designers are aiming to achieve high structural resistance and energy autonomy. To achieve structural resistance, they’ve needed to look at the extreme weather conditions in the bivouac’s location, its ability to resist the weight of meters of snow, and its resistance to wind. The structure has been put through a series of tests and simulations at Politecnico di Milano. The designers have also focused on weather sealing to counteract the massive temperature changes in the area.
As regards energy autonomy, the bivouac’s roofing will have integrated photovoltaics. These will power the internal radiant floor heating, allow the recharging of devices (phones, GPS, and satellite), and power the nearby weather station and its webcam.
The building’s construction was made possible thanks to consultancy services, materials, and systems made available by a series of partners, including Gualini, which looked after the design of the shelter, Guardian Glass, which supplied the glazing, and Sant’Agostino, which provided surface finishes and ceramicware.
According to Edoardo Camardella’s father, the local guides all say that this is a strategic place for ski mountaineers. The Tour du Rutor, a major international ski mountaineering event, passes through here every two years. And this is one of the reasons there was such a groundswell of support for the project from the Communes of La Thuile and Valgrisenche, the Valle d’Aosta Region, the Aosta Valley Ski Instructors Association, and the Aosta Valley Union of High Mountain Guides.
Courtesy of Progetto CMR