Dezeen Magazine

BCW Collective perches hikers' cabin above an Alpine valley in Italy

Architecture studio BCW Collective has perched an aluminium-clad bivouac shelter for hikers above an Alpine valley in northwest Italy.

The shelter, called Bivacco Brédy, is located in the Aosta Valley and was conceived as a memorial by the family of Claudio Brédy, a local politician and Alpinist who died during a mountain excursion in 2017.

Bivacco Brédy is located on a mountain range
Above and top: Bivacco Brédy is a hikers' cabin located in northern Italy that was designed by BCW Collective. Top image is by YAC srl

A competition, launched in 2019 with the support of the Cantieri d'Alta Quota cultural association, selected BCW Collective's design as the winner.

Sitting on a rock slab 2,528 metres above sea level, the shelter features a large window oriented towards the Grivola and Gran Paradiso mountains and Gran Paradiso, which had been climbed by Claudio Brédy.

Bivacco Brédy looks out to the mountain valley
The cabin is positioned on a large rock on a mountain

"The architecture interprets both openness of spirit and introspective nature through a minimalist approach; it offers protection yet is open to the horizon, as if springing free," said the studio.

"Beyond the symbolism, the orientation is an environmental strategy, maximising solar gain to warm the bivouac in the cold winter months," it continued.

"Thus the Vertosan Valley has a new memorial icon, solid in form yet light in touch, protective yet ephemeral."

Bivacco Brédy cantilevers over the terrain
The structure was clad in aluminium. Photo is by YAC srl

Inside, the centre of the cabin contains three bunk beds, as well as a window seat, a desk bookshelf built around the window to the north and an entrance area with built-in storage for hiking equipment by the entrance to the south.

The space is lined in pale timber, with two windows above the bunk beds helping to create a sense of being "immersed" in the landscape.

"The interior space is optimised for functionality, focusing on the view and sensorial experience as users immersed in the surrounding mountain context," explained the studio.

"Pushing into the void, the cantilevered volume evokes the absence of an important member of a family and community."

Interior image the multifunctional space at Bivacco Brédy
The interior was lined with pale wood

The cabin was prefabricated to minimise its impact on the site, with the structure delivered by helicopter and assembled in just a few days.

A metal-frame foundation anchors the cabin directly to its rocky site. This was chosen for its minimal impact on the landscape and its adaptability, should the shelter need to be moved in the future.

A large window provides views across the mountain range
The shelter contains three bunk beds and work and dining areas

This frame supports a structure of wooden insulated panels clad in aluminium, with materials chosen for their lightweight, long lifespan and minimal maintenance requirements.

BCW Collective was founded in 2019 by architects Chiara Tessarollo, Skye Sturm and Facundo Arboit.

Seating area in the interior of the cabin
The cabin was prefabricated off-site

Architecture studio Demogo recently completed a similar prefabricated cabin for hikers, which is perched on the edge of a cliff in the Dolomites to frame dramatic mountain views.

In Norway, Snøhetta built a group of timber cabins overlooking the Jostedalen glacier in place of a number of accommodation buildings that were destroyed by a cyclone.

The photography is courtesy of BCW Collective unless otherwise stated.

Project credits:

Designers: BCW Collective
Team: Chiara Tessarollo, Skye Sturm, Facundo Arboit
Cultural consultants: Cantieri d'Alta Quota, YACademy
Consultant and architectural project coordinator: Roberto Dini, Politecnico di Torino
Competition brief: YAC srl, Ordine degli architetti della Valle d'Aosta
Surveying and mapping: Carlo Perruquet
Structural design: Giancarlo Casella, Area9 Studio Associato
Construction: Chenevier S.p.a.
Drilling: Besenval Costruzioni S.r.l.
Pilots: Heliaosta
Rope weaving: Un Pizzo

More images and plans

Interior plan of Bivacco Brédy by BCW Collective
Interior plan
Section drawing of Bivacco Brédy by BCW Collective
Axonometric drawing of Bivacco Brédy by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective
Bivacco Brédy is a hikers cabin in Italy that was designed by BCW Collective