Himalayan Mountain Hut

Designed for the Nepal Mountaineering Association, our high altitude refuge is the first of its kind to be established in the Nepal Himalayas.

Applicable to various sites along the Himalayan Mountain trail, the refuge offers safe and comfortable lodgings for trekkers and their guides to rest, refuel and, if necessary, wait out troublesome weather.

  1. Daytime shop display with secure night time storage.
  2. Service area and internal store. Staff lodge when required.
  3. Covered external seating area provides shelter for entrance
  4. Stove/hearth/ cooking area. Located between main shelter and service space. Servicable from service space if staffed
  5. Bamboo roof frame with ETFE rooflights protected by multiple polartec curtains
  6. Structural walls built up from stones/earth from site enveloping bamboo framed insulation
  7. Mezzanine sleeping deck
  8. Entrance lobby prevents any direct cold air into the shelter and provides a thermal buffer between inside and out
  9. Solar cooker
  10. Clear central space for talks – sleeping area becomes local auditorium
  11. Building orientated with entrance in the leeward side of the prevailing wind
  12. Multi-ply Polartec interior shutter curtains
  13. PV array
  14. Incandescent lighting powered by PV and battery provides additional heat to the fabric and space

A site at high altitude with a climate to match

The hut is environmentally engineered to be a passive shelter. The winter is not typically trekking or mountaineering season. It accounts for considerable wind across all sites, substantial sunshine available during the days and a significant diurnal temperature swing throughout the year – averaging around 15oC.

Construction uses masonry common to local vernacular architecture – it is readily available and robust to climatic extremes. Their high thermal capacity can help to buffer large diurnal swings. Excavation downward provides additional building material and optimises on the insulative properties of the ground.

Excavated material at the site is used to build out the building envelope

The material language ties in with the ovoo – Himalayan rock piling interventions used for wayfinding. Materials not available locally will be lightweight, such as recycled Polartec used for insulation. The circular building form minimises the wall to floor ratio.

Recycled Polartec as effective lightweight insulation

Daytime metabolism of the refuge

  1. Single ply tensile ETFE rooflights bring in solar heat throughout the day
  2. Interior shutter curtains are stowed out of the way of any sightlines between sun and exposed thermal mass
  3. Exposed thermal mass soaks up the sun’s heat during the day, retaining it for night
  4. PVs charge batteries during the day. Inverter and battery inefficiencies are absorbed as heat by the building’s fabric
  5. Lobby helps control air exchange with outside
  6. Solar cooker heats Daal-Bhat during the afternoon, after melting ice for drinking during the morning
  7. Deep rainwater-butts between buttresses store rain water and snow-melt
Nighttime metabolism of the refuge
  1. Warmed fabric releases heat absorbed during the day.
  2. Multi-ply Polartec Interior shutter curtains are deployed to insulate the rooflights and minimise radiative heat loss to the cold night sky. Curtains have a snug fit within the rooflight frame
  3. Occupant’s metabolistic heat gains help warm the space and fabric
  4. Stove provides hot food and beverages while also heating the shelter
  5. Stove flue routed through space to maximise beneficial heat of waste flue gases
  6. Residual heat from solar cooker kept within the building’s envelope overnight
  7. Lobby shut up over night
  8. Incandescent lighting powered by PV and battery provides additional heat to fabric and space

The graph shows inside and outside temperatures for a particularly cold day in season at 4500m. This is how the building might be expected to perform passively with a typical occupancy and no active heating. The stove meets any shortfalls in the buildings thermal environment.

Estimated diurnal variation on a cold day at 4500m