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Aurora Realini and Sam Le Roy - Aesthetic Survival


220 pages
Edited by Aurora Realini and Sam Le Roy
24.5 x 17 cm 
Language: English Italian 
Publisher: Hartcopy

The French word "bivouac" is derived from the Swiss/Alsatian word "biwacht", which originated in the 17th century "Thirty Years War* and means "by guard". Over time, the meaning of the word shifted, as did its form as it spread through Alpine Europe, and the modern day definition is widely accepted as "a temporary encampment in the open, typically constructed by soldiers in war, or mountaineers in an emergency situation." In the past century, especially so the last two decades - wherein mountain culture has become more and more popular - the word has evolved and progressed once again. Designers, architects, and creatives far and wide have taken it upon themselves to reinvent the traditional bivouac, transforming what were buildings created purely for survival into true works of art, balancing between form and function in ways that have never before been done, and have never even been possible.

This exchange of pure, unfiltered survivalism, for a pursuit of the bleeding edge of design statements, has provoked immense amounts of conversation and debate within the outdoor world. Critics throughout the Alps are quick to point out the negative effects of appealing to less-experienced outdoors people none of these shelters are easily reached, and all of them require a certain level of fitness and experience in order to set foot at. Our mission, at its core, was to document the culture of bivouacking in the alps. Elsewhere in the world, this culture isn't so known, and our desire is to shine a light on the brilliant structures through the mountains of Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland, and doing so in a respectful manner so to conserve the traditions of the mountains that we were welcomed by.

Upon entering a bivouac, it's widely accepted that you've entered into an unspoken contract of decorum that guests must hold themselves to. The free shelters are maintained by not-for-profit organisations, and as such, need to be safeguarded as much as possible. This is one concern for nay-sayers of the modern, design-centric bivouacs of the 21st century, a group that enjoy the classic offering of shelters and have witnessed first hand the destruction that a group of guests can have, should they not conduct themselves properly. It's commonly known that you must leave the shelter in the same condition, if not better off, than you found it. Rather charmingly, there are traditions that see guests leave small offerings of provisions, for mountaineers that find themselves in emergency situations.