The European Alps have fallen into a pattern of large scale ski resort construction. Aggressive resort development and the infrastructure required to support the industry have had devastating ecological consequences on the region. The decimation of Pine forests and loss of large untouched areas of wilderness has led to the fragmentation of a once continuous alpine wilderness, causing species extinction and a dramatic loss of biodiversity. A 20-year ban on the construction of new resorts ends in 2018, making this a critical time for the region. With climate change rendering the long term future of the ski industry uncertain, and sites across the Alps ready for development, is there a more sustainable future development model for the Alps, a new type of hybrid resort, which seeks to initiate a collaboration between skiing and the preservation of the natural environment?
The project takes a critical look at the development of tourism in the Alps, the establishment of alpine architectural clichés and visual landscape cues in an attempt to move towards a new alpine typology which gradually adapts to a future without the ski industry. Can the lucrative industry be used to fund reforestation and species reintroduction projects across the French Alps, gradually re-establishing zones of wilderness to the region? A new type of resort is proposed, with an equal focus on permanent residents and tourists. Acting simultaneously as the Headquarters for the French Alpine Commission’s efforts to rewild the alps and as a ski resort, the project aims to provide a future-proof alternative to unsustainable resort construction. Guided by Romantic Landscape painting principles, Pine forest landscape test beds are curated and assembled on site and arranged on the mountainside, providing a reconfigurable, picturesque backdrop to the resort. Each year, the test beds are transported to sites across the Alps and grafted into the landscape to provide ecological stepping stones in fragmented habitats, resulting in a new hybrid Alpine Landscape, a curated Wilderness.