Low-cost Refurbishment of a Swiss “Mazot”

Sylvain Collet

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Refurbishing a mountain chalet at a low cost is the challenge launched by a civil engineering student as part of a semester project at SKIL (Student Kreativity and Innovation Laboratory). With the help of friends in architecture, concrete and simple solutions were put forward to transform a small, rudimentary walliser “mazot” into a holiday residence.

The renovation of this type of building generally faces two pitfalls: the costs of such an intervention are often prohibitive for owners and the modern materials (concrete, steel, plastics) used tend to denature these venerable buildings. The students thus decided to base their work on small interventions that were intended to bring a touch of comfort, while preserving the atmosphere and the original aspect of the place. The students identified three levels of renovation: interior design, roof insulation and the installation of electricity and running water. Each step was intended to increase the building’s standard of living but had to be self-sufficient; a complete renovation was not necessary to allow the chalet to be used.

Result? The students have converted two bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement to leave a large living room and a kitchen area on the first floor. A central stove passing through both floors acts as a heating core and meets different heating needs: while a mass in the basement allows heat to be diffused into the rooms long after the fire is out, the gases escaping through the chimney quickly temper the first floor.