These Prefab Cabins Offer the Ultimate Eco Escape in the Heart of the Swiss Alps

These Prefab Cabins Offer the Ultimate Eco Escape in the Heart of the Swiss Alps

By Lucy Wang
A new suite of prefab timber cabins welcomes guests at the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel.

Waking up in an alpine wonderland with warm croissants delivered to your doorstep is just one of the many charms of the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel—and the resort recently debuted a new set of timber chalets that are prefabricated and energy self-sufficient.

Located 4,600 feet above sea level, the high-altitude Whitepod resort near Monthey, Switzerland, offers cozy, low-impact hotel suites, wellness-focused amenities, and proximity to 15 miles of marked hiking trails.

Lausanne- and Los Angeles–based Montalba Architects designed the new additions to provide mountain housing for groups and families. The cabins complement the resort’s existing 18 geodesic dome–shaped tents—known as "Pods"—one of which was also designed by the firm.

The sloped terrain and the resort’s dedication to sustainability informed the architects’ decision to prefabricate the timber chalets off-site for quick and easy assembly atop foundation slabs poured on-site.

Three of the 21 chalets are finished, and an additional four chalets are slated to be completed by the end of 2020. The 14 remaining chalets are expected to be complete by the end of 2021.

The eco-chalets, the majority of which are still under construction, will be available in two layouts: a single-story 1,010-square-foot unit, and a two-story, 2,150-square-foot unit that takes advantage of the sloped landscape with living areas on the lower level and the bedrooms up above. It takes about three months to construct each single-story chalet, and it takes four to five months to complete each two-story chalet.

Once all chalets are complete, guests will be able to book all of the units in an "eco-village" that accommodates up to 54 people.

"The completion of the remaining chalets will give the image of a mountain village that blends seamlessly into the sloping landscape while mirroring the traditional chalet villages found nearby," explain the architects. "Multiple chalet exteriors have been completed with wood paneling to further blend the structures with the mountainous environment, while also evoking the design of a traditional Swiss chalet."

The day zone of each cabin comprises an open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchenette.

In addition to millwork by a local fabricator, the interiors feature a handful of locally produced furnishings—including the bedside tables and other fixed furniture elements.

Inside, the chalets are divided into "day" and "night" zones separated by a central volume containing all the service equipment. The day side holds the entrance, a spacious dining area, and a living area with a kitchenette. The night area on the other side contains three bedrooms and two baths, with each bedroom comprising a king-sized bed or twin beds to accommodate a maximum of six people per chalet.

The kitchen cabinets and appliances were also locally made.

The larch-clad chalets are minimalist in design so as not to distract from the spectacular alpine landscape. The interiors are lined in OSB wood panels with polished concrete underfoot. Large, triple-glazed windows frame views of the mountains and open up to let in natural ventilation.

Whitepod’s eco-chalets are designed for groups and families in search of a mountain escape with all the comforts of home. Breakfast is delivered daily via a 100% electric Land Rover Defender food truck, and the resort offers complimentary snowshoe and snowboard equipment, electric bike rentals, aromatherapy massages, multicourse meals at its on-site restaurant, and much more.

A peek inside one of the bedrooms. All of the beds are from Elite.

Decorative boards, external laths, OSB panels, a wind membrane, a wind barrier, and  two layers of heat insulation keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum. This envelope is bolstered by an in-wall active thermal regulation system and a heat pump powered by local hydroelectric turbines to keep each chalet toasty and warm all winter long.

As part of the resort’s commitment to sustainability, all waste is recycled and ingredients are purchased locally. The staff live nearby and walk to work.

The prefab chalets are topped with zinc roofs and wrapped in locally sourced larch wood. Like the Pods and the on-site restaurant Les Cerniers, the chalets are energy self-sufficient and draw power from a hydroelectric turbine that also produces enough electricity for over 200 households.

Whitepod’s eco-chalets are now open for booking, and stays begin at 650 Swiss francs ($700 USD) for a minimum of two nights.

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