Mountain hut on Dachstein Glacier - Architect: Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH; Photos: Kasia Jackowska
site plan
Architect: Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH

The Dachstein glacier, a 2700m high mountain in the Austrian region of Styria, offers one of the most spectacular broad views over the Alps. 250m below the top of this steep, rocky massive, in the eternal snow, a tiny make-shift hut was offering a shelter for the climbers. It was called Seethalerhütte after its former host, running the place for half a century. 

In 2016, a competition was held for its replacement. Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH won it with a modest, yet powerful concept of a building blending seamlessly into the surrounding rocks. The architects, Stephan Hoinkes and Thomas Heil, wanted to keep the character of a mountain shelter, as in opposition to panorama-restaurants designed for the needs of mass tourism. The construction started in the summer of 2017 with casting of underground concrete floors. On Christmas 2018 the hut opened.

The building changes its colour in the same way as the rocky landscape, in which it stands: golden in the morning, becomes light grey in the midday sun, shines at sunset to fade into a deep blue and black after dusk. The main entrance is on the ground floor, as well as the kitchen and dining area. Two upper floors, accessible only in the afternoon, are bedrooms and private flat of the innkeepers.

Every little detail is thought through for maximal functionality and all the comfort needed in alpine conditions.

Mountain hut on Dachstein Glacier with VELUX roof windowsArchitect: Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH; Photos: Kasia Jackowska

Stephan Hoinkes

architect Dreiplus Architekten

The hut looks like a rock, but it was not designed to look like it. The form is a result of the function. The sloped facades allow snow to slide down, and give the photovoltaic panels in the south a better orientation.

Mountain hut on Dachstein Glacier with VELUX roof windows
Architect: Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH; Photos: Kasia Jackowska

The architects did extensive research on the similar projects already constructed and as a result, decided to keep things as simple as possible: standard window formats, handles, and most rational construction details. The roof windows are mounted in the facade according to the usual VELUX detailing, slightly protruding in front of the surface. The result of a technical decision creates a great shadow play in the sun.

The facade, as well as the external part of the window frames, are made out of raw zinc. There is no varnish that would prevent ageing, as the aim was to achieve a monolithic look.


Mountain hut on Dachstein Glacier with VELUX roof windows
Architect: Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH; Photos: Kasia Jackowska

The structure of the building is simple and effective. The materials inside reflect the construction - raw wood bedrooms are cosy and smell well, the light boards on the floors encourage to walk barefoot.

Long before sunrise, in one of the dark Dachstein massive rocks tiny lights start to shine, the guests climb out of their bunk beds, and after a hearty breakfast, take off to conquer the peaks.

Project details

Project: Mountain hut
Location: Dachstein Glascier, Austria
Architect: Stephan Hoinkes and Thomas Heil / Dreiplus Architekten ZT GmbH
Year: 2018
Photos: Kasia Jackowska