Himalayan Mountain Hut

The Nepal Mountaineering Association, with support from Samarth Nepal Market Development Programme and UKAID invited architects and designers to submit designs for an innovative high altitude accommodation unit which will be the first of its kind ever to be established in the Nepal Himalayas.
The proposed design provides trekkers safe, comfortable and inviting lodgings, where they and their guides can rest, refuel and, if necessary, wait out troublesome weather. While there is no specified location for this Himalayan Mountain Hut, the proposal is designed to be applicable to various different sites along trails throughout the Himalayas.

The hut was designed in close collaboration with environmental engineers to be a passive shelter. The winter is not typically trekking or mountaineering season. There is substantial sunshine available during the days and there is a significant diurnal temperature swing throughout the year, averaging around 15oC. The wind is likely to be considerable at all the proposed sites.

Masonry is a common building material in vernacular architecture in the Himalayas – it is readily available and robust to the climatic extremes. It is also used to build ovoos – wayfinding interventions found in the Himalayas


Such rocks have a high thermal capacity which could be used to buffer the large diurnal swings
Heat from the sun, occupants and their activities can provide some of the building’s comfort.
The hut is a refuge during the cold Himalyan nightime. It should aim to retain its heat. A circular building minimises the amount of external fabric required to envelope its inhabitable floor area.


Excavating down ward not only provides additional building material, but maximises the insulative benefits of the ground.
Anything not available locally will be lightweight. A densely occupied building concentrates passive and transitory internal heat gains while minimising fabric heat loss. This sets the scale of the building.


A passive shelter Cairn ; A daytime greenhouse. A nighttime snug
Estimated Diurnal variation
Inside and outside for a particularly cold day during the trekking 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 building’s thermal environment