Refuge de Charmotane, Switzerland

Rowan Ibbeken has designed the Refuge de Charmotane, a new mountain refuge in the Swiss Alps. The refuge sits at 3107 m, with spectacular views of the Petit Mont Collon and surrounding mountains.

The refuge is built against a rock face above the Otemma glacier, with part of the rock face incorporated into the interior of the refuge, and was designed to blend into the surrounding landscape as much as possible.

The building consists of two angular, stacked volumes at opposing angles, clad in corrugated steel. The arrangement and geometry of the volumes, combined with several floor-to-ceiling windows, allows for a variety of views across the glacier and surrounding mountains.

Seating areas, kitchen, bathroom and a ski repair station are located on the ground floor, with bunks to sleep 14 people located on the first floor

To better communicate the design of the refuge and its uniquely picturesque location, a short film was completed by Rowan Ibbeken. Created with Blender, Houdini and Da Vinci Resolve, the film is a cinematic experience unlike any other archviz animation, and truly blurs the line between the real and the virtual.

I also created a playable cinematic experience based on the film in Unreal Engine. The game includes numerous interactive elements, including light switches, doors and UI pop-ups that inform the viewer about features of the refuge, powered by Blueprints.

Using the Niagara particle system in Unreal, I created realistic falling snow, and leveraged Nanite Tesselation to help create interactive snow which leaves tracks when you walk through it. I also used Blueprints to produce different footstep sounds depending on which surface the player is walking on, further enhancing the immersion of the experience.

In 2022, ‘Refuge de Charmotane’, was longlisted for Architecture video of the year at the Dezeen Awards. Architecture, interior design, photography and visualisation by Rowan Ibbeken. Full attributions in closing credits of film.