Laurent Chappis

Laurent Chappis (born: 1915 Aix-les-Bains, France – ), architect and town planner, created the French ski resort of Courchevel located in the Trois Vallées and in doing so practically wrote the rule book on how to design a ski resort. Chappis was a keen ski tourer exploring the mountains around Grenoble in the 1930s before joining the army and serving in the early stages of World War Two. A decorated war hero he was captured in a daring attack on a German position in the final days before the French surrender and served five years in a PoW camp in Austria.

He completed his doctorate in captivity, the subject was the development of a ski resort in the Trois Vallées area. His ideas were often controversial, especially with developers more concerned with profits than esthetiques. This lead him to be nicknamed the Anarchitecte. In the 1960s he was appointed as a United Nations expert on mountain development. Chappis is also credited along with the architect Denis Pradelle? with creating a modern, functional style of mountain architecture which rejected both traditional Savoie styles and the Tyrolean chalet style of achitecture.

A prophet in his own land, he was consulted by authorities the world over. In Soviet Russia he was once asked his opinion on the new ski resort of Tchimboulac… Chappis replied that their architect did not know “which way was North, the scale of the plan, the snow cover, prevailing wind, the contours”. His interpreter pleaded “would it not be better to just say that everything is okay? why complicate llfe?”

Sure of his beliefs Chappis went on complicating his life. He argued against the over development of the mountains and the pursuit of a a quick dollar. Opinions that cost him valuable contracts. Even his UN position came from Italy were he was much more appreciated than in his native Savoie. As he put it “people came to me for ideas, when we no longer agreed it was better that we part company lest the world think I was only in it for the money.”

Chappis always held the belief that the mountain should come first in any development. Later in his career he elaborated concepts of a 4th and 5th generation of ski resort with lower environmental impact and more emphasis on sustainable development of the mountain. In France, at least, ideas whose time has yet to come.

Important Works

Laurent Chappis worked on studies in many countries including France, Italy, Argentina, Marocco, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, his most notable works are:

  • Courchevel
  • Chamrousse - Le village d'enfants de Bachaboulou
  • Sansicario - Clos de la Chapelle


l'Anarchitecte, Philippe Révil Amazon-FR:2911755650


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