‘Snow Dwell Inn’: Architecture Competition seeks ideas and projects Essay Writing Competition held by UNI

Fig: 1 — Finnish Troops on skies during a war. Circa 1940 (Credits-Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Skiing in the snow

Hunter-Gatherers roamed around the globe trying to find temporary/permanent habitats and food. Scaling through varied landscapes encouraged them to develop different equipment for proper hunting and surveillance of the area. One of those pieces of equipment was Skis, to hunt and move in the northern regions. Evidence of skiing can be traced to 5000-year old Chinese paintings that suggest the use of skis and fragments of ski-like structures found in northern Russia.

Many who lived in the snowy mountains, developed some skiing as a means of transport. It was and is still being used for transportation in rural Russia and Scandinavia. The boom of Skiing as a sport happened after veterans of the World-war started promoting it. Since then, skiing both as a sport and recreation was a natural development from its utilitarian applications. Over the years’ equipment improved and skiing for different regions was developed.

The 90s witnessed this boom especially when the snowmaking machine was developed, which allowed tourists and enthusiasts to enjoy skiing even when the weather was uncooperative.

Fig: 2 — Posters for winter vacations and the emergence of Ski resorts (Credits- Swin Ink /Getty Images)

Ski resort

The roots of Alpine and Nordic tourism, in general, can be traced to the development of transport in the 19th-20th century. Lodges in the Alpines have sprung from agriculture, as barns housed skiers and tourists in the 80s. After it, the first generation of Winter resorts including Grindelwald, Chamonix, and St. Moritz invested in skiing facilities after it bloomed in the 1950s.

An increase in disposable incomes and automobile ownership brought families and vacationers to the Alpines demanding a better standard of living and mass tourism began. Along with the availability of on-slope skiing activities, the off-slope amenities began to grow. Facilities and services attached to lodging, beverages, and entertainment became important elements associated with ski vacation packages.

The architecture of these typologies has evolved from rural origins to cultural influences of different eras and aesthetics. Now the resort acts as multi-functioning typologies catering to the needs of skiing, transport as well as winter-vacations.

Fig: 3–40 million skiers in ski resorts of Europe flock to the hills every year (Credits-Pixabay)

Environmental impact

Ski-tourism is a global industry with approximately 68 countries with ski resorts offering integrated services. It is a multi-billion dollar international market attracting between 300 and 350 million annual skier visits. Although due to its strong dependency on specific climatic conditions, the ski industry is regarded as the tourism market most directly and immediately affected by climate change.

Due to global warming scientists have predicted that 70% of snow over the Alps will be lost by the end of the 21st century. While the effects on ski tourism and ski resort are due to global phenomena, more than 20% of the emission of greenhouse gases are from the transport facilities and accommodations in the region. The resorts and tourism facilities face decline due to their unsustainable strategies. The future for the ski industry seems to be extremely unfavorable.

Can we provide solutions for the ski industry that helps to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Fig:4Ski resort conceptual (Credits- Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Designs)

Brief of the competition

With this ever-rising demand for ski vacations, ski resorts, and climate change, there is intense pressure on the ski industry. The industry since its inception is the central economic factor for remote regions in the mountains; its decline will cause direct harm to their livelihoods.

Several technologies, construction processes, and materials have been developed/evolving since the crisis of environmental decline all over the world. This has pushed many typologies to adapt to more sustainable means to harbor recreational activities.

While delivering a great experience of a vacation and skiing activities, can we sensitize people about climate change through ski resort design?

Brief: The design challenge here is to create a low-emission ski resort that is environmentally aware in the form of its design strategies, and also provides excellent skiing and vacation experience.

Design Objectives

  • Context — Solution relies on locally available resources, on the immediate environment, and identifiable needs.
  • Environmentally sustainable Strategies — Incorporating traditional as well as new technologies to move towards low-emission designs.
  • Form and Materiality — Apply form and materiality that is culturally and climatically appropriate even if unconventional.
  • Balance — Environmental and recreational balance.

The following objectives can be a point of beginning to conceive this design. Participants can assume their contexts and users before initiating their design process.


Fig: 4 — Site image
  • Location: Matterhorn, Switzerland
  • Area: 6041 sq.m
  • Height Limitations: 12 meters
  • Maximum Built-Up Area: 6041 sq.m
  • Ground Coverage: 50%
  • Coordinates: 45°55'04.3"N 7°41'13.3"E

Climate change is affecting the Alps drastically, from the volume of snow to the quality of it. Glaciers are retreating and ice and snow bridges are disappearing. The art of guiding in the mountains is changing as traditional routes are becoming unsafe.

At an altitude of around 3883 meters between Zermatt and Breuil-Cervinia lies the highest ski area in Switzerland, the Matterhorn ski paradise. The landscape of this area promises fantastic skiing experiences. Although due to climate changes in recent years nearly half of all ski resorts in Switzerland will face difficulties in attracting tourists and winter sports enthusiasts in the future. Designing a resort for a region like this allows mitigating these impacts as well as for recreation.

Program outline

Switzerland’s ski-resorts, in the Matterhorn, attract almost two million visitors a year. Design a resort for approx 1500 visitors per month.

  • Accommodation 55%: Single, Double, triple bed-rooms and Suite
  • Recreation 25%: Cafeterias/restaurants, Lounge, Hot tubs/swimming pools, Spa/Fitness, Yoga/meditation, Landscape
  • Services 20%: Entrance Lobby, Snowpatrol, First aid facility, Utility, Kitchen and pantry, Cloakroom,

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Snow Dwell Inn | Architecture Competition on UNI | About

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Originally published at https://uni.xyz.




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