Last year, the eco-friendly Whitepod resort, overlooking Monthey, a small city in Switzerland’s Valais region, created a new way for guests to experience the Alps: nine spacious, minimalist chalets. Whitepod opened in 2004. Originally visitors could stay in one of the resort’s 18 single-room geodesic rooms, an unconventional accommodation experience. But the chalets, which were designed by the Californian-Swiss architecture firm Montalba Architects, are big enough to receive larger families – and groups hoping to escape to the mountains for a few days, and they blend into the sloped alpine landscape effortlessly.
The chalets have been “made entirely with Swiss materials and products,” Montalba Architects have said, and, like the geodesic domes, they are energy efficient. The larch wood exterior was made by a local fabricator, as was the interior millwork. This woodwork “creates a seamless transition between the structures and mountainous environment while also evoking the design of a traditional Swiss chalet.” Inside there are multiple bedrooms, as well as a living room and a dining room. The chalets’ furniture is also produced nearby: the tables are made by Durame, an Italian manufacturer; bed frames are made by Elite, a heritage Swiss company that was founded in 1885.
Whitepod’s chalets sit at 1400 meters. Visitors wake to views of the Rhone Valley; you can see Lake Geneva on the horizon. For all their architectural neatness, the straight lines and local natural materials, it is the chalets’ surrounding environment that remains the location’s main draw: miles of forest, covered in snow in the winter, into which visitors can venture alone or with a guide.
Words: Editorial Board