Àliga Ski building: Mountain Architecture at the Foot of the Slopes, explains Lluís Ginjaume, architect of the Altura Arquitectes team

The Àliga Ski building (el Tarter, Andorra) offers a safe and profitable investment with long-term growth potential. The future owners of the new building, “in the heart of the Pyrenees,” will have year-round direct access to the ski slopes, allowing visitors to enjoy active holidays as well as the culture and gastronomy of Andorra.

The Àliga Ski building, built in traditional mountain-style, has an Andorra stone and wood facade. Its interior was designed with quality materials, high levels of thermal insulation, low-consumption underfloor heating and home automation to increase comfort. And all this in an unrivalled location at the foot of the slopes of the Grandvalira Ski Resort (150 m from the el Tarter chairlift and 300 m from the cable car).

We spoke to Lluís Ginjaume, an architect from the Altura Arquitectes team that managed the project.

Interview: Irina Rybalchenko

Why was Altura chosen to build the Àliga Ski building, the Endor Homes project?

Altura is an Andorran company that was born in 2019 as a result of the merger of two entities with a long-standing reputation in our country. We started collaborating on the “Refugi de l’Illa” project, which is 2,488 metres above sea level. It was a real challenge to build a fully isolated building in extremely low temperatures. We learnt a lot about sustainability, which we have applied to our projects. Our multidisciplinary team of 13 people is led by partners Gerard Veciana, Andreu Canut, Lluís Ginjaume and Andrea Doncel i Júlia Sàlvia.

We are now a company that works mainly in Andorra, specialising in sustainable and mountain architecture. We like to work with wood in both construction and decoration, as seen in the Àliga Ski building: a construction with modern design flats fireplaces and wood in the interiors. The order followed from a tender organised by Endor Homes, where our project was selected.

For this project, we collaborated with Estudi Biga and engineering firms Ateci (facilities) and Beal AEC (structures), as well as an environmental consultant to develop sustainability strategies and energy modelling.

Please tell us about the architectural style and the main materials used for the Àliga Ski building.

We use materials depending on the environment in which the building is located. In this case, we are in a mountainous area surrounded by nature, next to el Tarter ski slopes, so we chose natural materials, such as Andorran stone, wood for the corners and terraces and a plinth made of corten sheet steel.

What are the main characteristics of the Àliga Ski building?

Being fully integrated into the environment, the project has interesting spaces. It is an isolated building: 6,000 m² built above ground and about 3,000 m² of underground parking. The building plan is Z-shaped to create an open space facing the street and terraces overlooking the river.

All floors have bedrooms and living rooms facing the street, without courtyards. This way you can enjoy the views and the area surrounding the property. The sloping roofs, typical of traditional mountain architecture, are also integrated into the environment and have a modern style.

On the ground floor of the building there is a room for storing ski equipment, as well as a commercial space that benefits from a privileged position in the building.

What are the dimensions of the flats?

Before talking about the dimensions of the flats, it is important to note the particularities of mountain-style interior design. The penthouses have additional volume due to the use of roof geometry made of massive wooden beams, which gives them a special character. Also, it is worth mentioning the use of wood in the design fireplaces to create a comfortable atmosphere.

In total, there are 47 apartments, with one, two and three bedrooms ranging from 47 to 148 m², with terraces of up to 23 m².

How did you design the heating of the building?

First, we insulated the building to minimise energy consumption. We used quality insulation both on the facade and on the roof.

Second, the windows are made of wood with triple glazing and thermal break, which guarantees a high level of heat and sound insulation.

Wood and fireplaces also create a sense of warmth in the interior.

Third, the underfloor heating system has low consumption. The advantage of underfloor heating is that it evenly warms the entire floor surface, eliminating the need for space for radiators. They are powered by the FEDA ECOTERM cogeneration network, which also produces hot water. This is a very efficient system, because the water is produced centrally through cogeneration; the production of hot water also generates electricity. And here we are lucky that the network is close by and we can connect.

And finally, the houses are equipped with a dual-flow mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, guaranteeing good indoor air quality. All this can be controlled by home automation, ensuring user comfort and allowing the house to be managed remotely.

How developed is the infrastructure near the Àliga Ski building?

Due to its fantastic location, the surrounding area has recently experienced significant urban development, with the construction of new buildings. Nearby is one of the main accesses to the Grandvalira Ski Resort, recognized by skiing enthusiasts as one of the most important in the Pyrenees. The town of el Tarter also offers services such as cafes, restaurants, shops and a wide range of leisure activities. In addition, you can quickly reach the centre of Andorra’s capital with its great commercial and cultural offer.

Which do you think is better for Andorra? Rustic style or skyscrapers we have in the centre of Andorra?

Andorra is in an interesting dual position in this respect. Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany have experienced significant growth in recent years, becoming towns offering an active urban life.

However, we also have a mountainous area with villages, rural life and stunning landscapes that need to be preserved. Many people prefer to live in the mountain area rather than in the urban centre. The Àliga Ski building is ideal for ski lovers or people looking for a peaceful environment with views, nature and fresh air. On the other hand, the towers are designed for those seeking urban living. These two trends must co-exist in harmony.

At Altura, you work both in urban centers and in more isolated areas. What is important to consider when designing an architectural project according to the environment?

It is essential to know the environment where the project is located to establish the concept of the building and choose the materials that best adapt to the environment. When we work in a mountain environment, the materials and construction solutions are different from when we work in an urban center. We must consider certain factors, such as topography, climate and integration with nature, to create spaces that are harmonious and sustainable in their environment as in the Àliga Ski building project.

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