Copper Protects Europe’s Highest Building Despite Extreme Cold and Wind
23 Jun 2016
Copper Gets Going to the Summit of Europe
The Capanna Osservatorio Regina Margherita – Monte Rosa, Italy
Going to the peak
Copper has literally reached new heights – 4,554 metres to be exact! That’s the altitude
of the Capanna Osservatorio Regina Margherita, or Queen Margherita Observatory
and Hut, making it officially the highest building in Europe. This unique copper-clad
structure is perched on Punta Gnifetti, one of the peaks of the Monte Rosa Massif in
the Italian Alps.
Going to the extreme
Low oxygen, extreme cold, wind and weather are commonplace at altitudes above
4,000 metres. However, this shelter, clad with 5.5 tonnes of copper sheet, has got it
covered: the copper exterior acts as a giant Faraday cage, which insulates and protects
the interior from lightning and atmospheric phenomena. Tough copper can stand up to
these extreme conditions – resisting corrosion and electrical discharges – thus keeping
the hut and all inside safe from the elements.
Going the alpine route
Originally constructed in 1893 and rebuilt in 1980, this three-level shelter and
scientific research centre can host 70 mountaineers and alpine skiers in summer.
Requiring an enduring and extremely challenging glacial trek, or Alpine climb, it is
not for beginners or the faint of heart! The hut is also uniquely positioned to conduct
high-elevation medical research, plus environmental and climate studies.
Going 360 degrees
With stunning views spanning 360 degrees, the Capanna Osservatorio Regina
Margherita is a copper-covered beacon – anchored on a 2,000 metre precipice of rock
and ice. Not merely a summit to be conquered, but a destination in itself.