Designing through reuse in alpine context

by Maxence Grangeot


Can we reach a "cosmic economy" of architecture to "shelter and enhance life on earth"?

vernacular granary in Vallais

historical reuse of timber structures


Plan neige - Winter tourism - 150 000 touristic beds

Ski station of 3rd category - ex nihilo

Architect Jacques Labro

Professional skiier Jean Vuarnet

Promotor Gérard Brémond

Construction in 1967

No roads : circulation on snow or by cable

“Successful utopia“

ResidentsMaximum capacitiy Yearly employedSeasonnaly employedLow season densityHigh season densityFrench tourists English touristsScandinavian tourists Other tourists Altitude Top altitude Skiable area - Avoriaz Skiable area - P. du SoleilRuns - AvoriazRuns - P. du SoleilLongest runLift systems - AvoriazLift systems - P. du SoleilSnowfallSnowmakingEPFL Enoncé or Thesis
24 inhabitants18 000 inhabitants5 (1%)1300 (6%)115 pers/km² - 8’700 m²/pers86’000 pers/km² - 11 m²/pers45%13%9%26%1800 m2466 m130 km650 km512836 km342198 m200 cannons4


18 000 touristic bed for a dense seasonal town in the french Alps
- Increasing tourism - all season- high density, maximum size, satellite town or extension?- unbalanced tourism throughout the year- limited accessibility- access by cable- split monotourism- currently few facilities for extra-seasonal activites- paradoxally no public view over the valley- create public spaces/facilities- facilities closed half of the year- seasonal repataration more expensive than yearly maintenance- revitalize- pedestrian and ski mobility- dominant winds from the north- adapt to climatic changes (pollution + higher temperatures)- not to alter the landscape, respect the environnement- environmental footprint- spread seasonal tourism throughout the year- promote local economy- foster mountain crafstmanship and knowledge- preserve urban and architectural heritage- blend old and new- obsolescence of system- lifespan of components- challenge construction industry


promote a yearly occupated alpine city
- Reuse local elements- Sustainable development- Affordable architecture- Act as an example of visionary and sustainable (re)construction process and way of living- Surprise but also evidence- Inspire generations- Stress the environmental impact of humans- Exalt the possilbilities and the beauty of the site- Nature as contemplation and background- Seasonal / Specific needs- Integrate the balance of occupancies between inhabitants and tourists- Reversibility- Versatility- Cosmic economy through the use of local wood- Manufacturing and prefabrication enabled by the versatility of timber elements- Reduce construction costs using digital fabrication- Timber : less energy to produce, to assemble, to transport and to supply- Innovate within normalized boundaries- Design considering ease of transport and smart assembly- Permeability (welcoming, opened...)- Circular Economy- Economic performance during tourism seasons- Change of spatiality / link between vast valley and dense city.- Upcycling, not downcycling- Design impacts- Reduce unused architecture- Densification of Alpine city
spatial layout of programs in the city of Avoriaz
construction of the new upper cable car station in 2013 next to the old one, left abandonned



from local context to global solutionthe reconversion of the old Prodains cable car aims to reduce unused architecture
from local ressources to sustainable designpromoting circular economy using resource available on site and various reclaimed items from the ski resort
from single unit to structural formthe elements of the roof and covering are reused as a new protecting structure
from digital fabrication to smart assemblythese elements are analyzed and processed using technology to minimize downcycling and construction time
from scientific research to project buildingthe space and the usage changes completely with subtle changes, establishing a yearly occupation


reuse of materialsevery elements used in the structure and stands is reuse from a previous and different usage
areasby covering a new space on the town side, the overall design of option B has more square meters.
a new multipurpose hallby enclosing the historic docks, the gigantic space allows various usage and usually serve as a hall
materialswhile most of the new structure is reused, new materials are necessaryfor glazed walls and details
costsunmounting and rearranging the layout of element allows new uses but it more expensive
situation plan 1 : 10 000
situation plan 1 : 1 000
territorial section 1 : 10 000
current section 1 : 200


yearly program distribution
space usage and capacitytotal 2 078 m² gross
amphitheater morphology

program layout

entrance level
dock level
upper level
timber disassembly for reuse

could we join existing timber beams with old skis ?

potential of on-site reuse


north axonometry
docks level plan 1 : 200
entrance level plan 1 : 200
section 1 : 200
section 1 : 200


perspective - entrance view
perspective - view from down
rebirth of Festival international du film fantastique d’Avoriaz
perspective - interior view - foyer - exhibition day
inside perspective
perspective - interior view - foyer - business event



Fiona Pia , Urbaniser les Alpes suisses. Stratégies de densification des villes en altitude. EPFL Thesis

Timoté Benjamin Mopty, Cités Alpines Subversion avoriazienne. La fin de l’hégémonie touristique dans les stations de haute-montagne. EPFL Thesis

François Bianco, Identité – Densité. Intervention dans un milieu alpin dense à forte identité architecturale, EPFL Thesis

Passion Portes du Soleil, Chantiers 2012 - 3S Prodains Express

Avoriaz website

all images and drawings from context section are copyright © Maxence Grangeotall others documents belong to their respective owners