The New Cottage of Kezmarok

The Cottage of Kezmarok was our response to an open competition entry. The brief was to create an off-grid mountain lodge to accommodate the many hikers and skiers whom visit this beautiful and remote region of Slovakia each year. We proposed a striking cottage clad with bright and patented zinc on a raised deck which floats above the valley floor.

Description of Proposal

This proposal is for a striking cottage clad with bright and patented zinc on a raised deck which floats above the valley floor. The building has a dynamic plan so its appearance within the natural setting changes as the hiker moves towards it, beneath it, round behind it and into it before climbing up inside to the main deck. From the interior, views of the surrounding mountain bowl are revealed and framed as the guest moves through and around the cottage.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

The archaeological footprint of the old Kezmarok Cottage has been retraced using the onsite material to create a podium entrance level with partial basement service rooms and garage within. On the podium is an entrance and viewing deck which allows the visitor to take in the view on arrival. A one and a half storey block sits on the podium with a full height entrance and stair atrium and a single height service and staff accommodation levels. Above this the accommodation deck is long and slender to anchor the building in its low level setting but with the elevation over the valley floor which allows nature and weather to pass beneath it and offer views that take in the valley floor as well as the mountains. At roof level is the conference/private dining room and main terrace which gives our guests full 360˚ views of the spectacular scenery.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero CarbonThe main accommodation deck is centred around the common room with wings of guest rooms to the northwest and southeast. The common room has a large south/southwest facing picture window on the access of the old cottage, opening onto a balcony taking in the view of the Kezmarasky and Lamnicky peaks. Rear windows in the north elevation are small and frame views up the hill. The bedrooms in the north wing have small windows framing views of the Jahnaci peak and bead head windows to the Kopske Saddle. The dorms in the southwest wing have views to Jahnaci with bedhead windows to the Tratanske Matliare.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

Placing of the Building

The new cottage is designed to fit within its environment with minimum impact yet with a subtle iconic form to sit alongside the landscape. The main footprint of the new building lies within that of the old cottage to the same orientation. There are just two points that touch the ground outside the original footprint to support the over sailing upper deck frame. This orientates the centre of the building to the south/southwest for maximum passive solar gains and views of the peaks.

The bedroom wing is to the northwest and dorm wing to the southwest. The snaking form of the building relates it to the main approaches and the key views. This gives the building a subtle differences in the shapes it makes against the sky line and natural scenery when viewed from different points within and around it.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

Operational Solution

A front of house entrance level is 1.5 storey high with reception boot rooms and WCs. The main accommodation stair takes the guests up to the upper deck where they arrive in the common room. From here they can see the stove fire and the panoramic window and balcony offers them their first view back over the tarn and valley. The guest will then enter either of the wings to their sleeping accommodation and views are framed in full height windows at the ends of corridors and
bed heads. For a sunny afternoon the guests will go to the roof terrace to take in the full view this elevated vantage point at the bottom of the valley offers. This is also where the conference/private dining room is.

Service, plant and store rooms are located on the half basement level with staff above. These are served by separate entrances and a stair. Deliveries will arrive at the rear and use these stairs.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

Architectonic Expression

Materials are as natural as possible from the core to the surface to minimize any future impact of the building on the site. The pallet of is kept very simple as is the natural setting. The expression comes from the subtle angles in the plan and the strut supports to the end of the building and subtle contrast of different patination in the zinc to the struts, base and main deck. From a distance the building appears to be long low and flat accentuated by the horizontal corrugation in the bright zinc. As you approach it becomes high and angular as the perspective changes. This dynamism and variation reflects the experience of the mountain range as the alpine tourist moves through it.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

Internally the structure is expressed with exposed timber panel walls which gives the rooms warmth and character. The interior spaces go from large and open to small and compact interconnected by long thin corridors. This variation in spatial arrangement gives interest and efficiency. At every turn the visitor is given a different view of the landscape maintaining a constant connection between the interior and the landscape.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

Technical Solutions, Thermal Properties, Energy Use and Water

The building is designed with a passive philosophy to minimise the demand on energy and water for comfort and service requirements through design with a fabric first principle. The aim is then to provide heat and energy in the most efficient manner from the available resources. The location of this site and the restrictions on it make this philosophy paramount. On site we have a solar energy, a limited clean water supply and no drainage.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon

The building fabric is super-insulated and air-tight with the insulation to the outside of the construction keeping all the structure on the warm side. This gives a global heat loss U-Value of 0.12W/m2K and encapsulates the thermal mass of the structure to even out diurnal variation. All junctions in the construction are then detailed to minimize thermal bridging to achieve a linear transmission or psi value of 0.04W/mK. This will reduce the space heating demand to a minimum. We anticipate the space heating demand to be 892.80kWh in the month of January, and a total demand of 5000kWh/a or 14kWh/m2/a.

Competition, Safe House, Mountains, Refuge, New Build, Eco Architecture, Zero Carbon