At 3.260 m on Mount Matterhorn: Hörnli Hut built with AluStar

Project: Building the “Hörnlihütte” and renovation of the Mountain house Matterhorn at 3260 m

Contractor (and Architects): Sulag Hoch- & Tiefbau AG, Zermatt, Schweiz

Developer:  Zermatt community with the “Hörnlihütte 2015” Foundation

MEVA Systems: wall formwork system AluStar in combination with StarTec panels

Formwork Engineering: MEVA Formwork-Systeme AG, Seon, Switzerland



Hörnli Hut built with AluStar

Concrete works as precise as a Swiss clock – at 3,260 metres above sea level

The Matterhorn is not the highest Swiss mountain, but it is the most famous. The unmistakable pyramid shape is a Swiss symbol found on almost every tourist photograph. The eastern side, heading for the 4,478 m summit, is an huge challenge to climbers from all over the world. It was 1865 when Edward Whymper became the first to reach the summit. Some years later – in 1880 – the local authorities built the first shelter for the climbers: the Hörnli hut at the foot of the mountain’s eastern side.

2015 will see the 150 year anniversary of the Matterhorn’s first ascent. By then the local authorities will have replaced the old Hörnli hut by a new one and restore the neighbouring Matterhorn Berghaus (mountain hostel), equipping both buildings with the latest energy-saving and environmental technologies. All work is done on extremely steep ground and under very narrow site conditions while both buildings are still open to the public.

Speedy airlift of man and material
Alpine weather sets a tight schedule for outside work between mid-July and mid-September. What’s more, a narrow, steep path is the only access to the site from the valley. That is why the workers and all material includingthe formwork and concrete were flown in and out by helicopter.

The light-weight AluStar was up with only seven flights
Due to the difficult logistics and ground that would not allow the use of a crane or other lifting devices, a light and crane-independent, yet powerful formwork system was the only feasible choice. The contractor opted for MEVA’s AluStar wall formwork system. Thanks to the system’s low weight, it took only seven helicopter flights to fly in all 95 m² of formwork including accessories

Concrete pouring with two helicopters
The Hörnli hut’s foundation, base slab and walls for the basement had to be poured. A quarter cubic metre of concrete was all a helicopter could transport per flight. A return flight to the preliminary concrete plant at the mountain’s foot took five minutes. The walls were poured in five cycles, each cycle requiring some 17 cubic metres of concrete and approximately five hours to do the job. Two helicopters commuted constantly between the site and concrete plant to fly in the concrete and pour it from the air.

Precise as a Swiss clockwork
A construction site in an extreme location without road access, precipes all around, air transport of workers and all material, and a tight schedule with an anniversary ahead that would not allow for any delay – such a combination of obstacles requires very careful planning and timing of all work steps including logistics and the choice of the proper formwork. MEVA’s light- weight yet powerful AluStar system was the right choice for this extremely difficult construction site and allowed the contractor to perform all concrete work without problems or delays.

"We are very pleased with MEVA"
This is how site manager Louis Lochmatter summarised his use of MEVA formwork on this challenging construction site. “We were enthusiastic about MEVA’s detailed formwork planning that did not require any modification at all. Thanks to the alkus all-plastic facing, we achieved an architectural concrete surface quality beyond what was required. The easy handling of the AluStar system on this difficult site has been a major plus and eased work considerably. We did the job with five workers only."

AluStar is the world's number one hand-set system in terms of weight-performance ratio.

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