Alpine Capsule by Lovegrove Studio 2



Here are some more images and plans of Alpine Capsule by Lovegrove Studio, which was officially presented by Ross Lovegrove at Alta Badia, Italy, this month.


The capsule comprises a mounting living unit, where visitors can stay over night in the Italian Alps.


Power is provided by several "power plants', which consist of photovoltaic panels combined with a vertical axis wind turbine.


See our previous story for more information. Thanks to everyone at Alta Badia and Val Gardena for our trip to the site last week.

The following text is from Lovegrove Studio:


The Alpine Capsule defines a new architectural condition, off grid and harmonic with nature. It expands the potential of modern life, its comforts, its technological connect and its vision, away from cities and into the realm of landscape and “open space”.


“Open space/open mind”; the realisation that being out in nature but super-connected to cultural portals and the information age can bring both health and imagination to people in a very sensual way.


The capsule is in fact a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity, a place to think and wonder in awe of the changing nature of nature… its colours, its textures… the experiences of day and night, seasons and the infinity of the cosmos.


The project is a prototype for a new way of living off-grid, even as a temporary experience, a new ambition for the 21st century that can be implemented in so many environments.


It tests principles of dematerialisation, invisibility, visibility and life support systems imported from space but blended with terrestrial comforts.


Made from advanced technologies that support the magic of a pure water droplet that landed as a space ship, from another world to help us feel and breathe in another condition the beauty of expansive space and intellectual tranquillity.


Ross Lovegrove 2008.

Piz la ila offers a remarkable opportunity to extract energy from renewable energy sources. Meteorological data shows that the unique positioning of the alpine capsule will allow it to exploit both wind and solar technologies to achieve its energy needs


The Power Plants are remote units located in the vicinity of the Capsule, sharing the same language and materials. The typical Power-Plant features an integrated system that relies on photovoltaic panels and a vertical axis wind turbine: the combination of these two technologies ensures that almost in every weather condition the power plants will generate a sufficient energy output.


The PV panels are retractable to react to extreme conditions: in case of strong wind or in case of heavy snow fall – particularly in the winter - all eight “petals” can retract by rotating on a single rotation pivot, decreasing the total surface exposed to the elements.


In these arduous conditions, the majority of the expected energy requirement is fulfilled by the vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) situated at the top of the turbine. The simplicity and flexibility of a VAWT system in order to deal with multiple wind currents (fig 3.) and lower complexity and maintenance issues allow for an ultra light and efficient system by which to harvest wind power for the capsule.


In the summer months when wind speeds drastically drop solar energy becomes the main contributor to energy requirements. When the “petals” are fully extended a total solar surface of 1.7 squared meters will be available on each Power-Plant, generating a total of 500 Watts per Power-Plant.


The concept proposal for Alpine Capsule follows two synergistic design directions: the Capsule and the Power-Plants, as remote devices providing renewable energy to the Capsule itself.

The Alpine Capsule is in principle a compact, self-sufficient living unit, defined by an external envelope containing an internal “soft” landscape, technical components, such as solar batteries, water tanks and a bathroom.


The external envelope is conceived as a passive, technological double skin, mainly manufactured out of clear acrylic. The external skin features a mirror coated external finish, but see-through from inside. The coating is able to bounce off the majority of infrared rays, protecting the internal environment from excessive overheating. In the same time the mirror coating acts as a mimetic skin, dematerializing the mass of the Alpine Capsule, as it reflects the surrounding environment and light, effectively making the pod disappear.

The thirteen panels, creating the outer skin, are set out according to the structural logic of dome geometry: the main bearing structure is made out of clear acrylic ribs that support each three-dimensional curved panel.

The acrylic ribs will support not only the external skin but also the internal skin, acting as structural spacers, creating the plenum in between the two skins. This plenum will guarantee an efficient thermal insulation all year round, mitigating the temperature delta between the outside and the inside.

From inside the mirror coated finish will not detract from the optical clarity of the acrylic, so the Alpine Capsule occupants will be able to see outside under every lighting condition, daytime and night time.

The Alpine Capsule wants to offer a new approach to experience the Dolomites while connecting with nature in such a fashion that no other architecture can offer at the moment. The interior needs to support this vision and approach to nature, creating a space which is intimate and yet permeable to the outside environment.

Inside the capsule, a wellbeing space is generated where contemplation and mediation are enhanced by the physicality and tactility of the space and materials.

The Capsule provides a high standard of accommodation for two people, defining two main areas: living/sleeping/contemplation and a separate bathroom, with exceptional views over the mountains.

The entrance to the Capsule is at +1m form the ground, at a lower level compared to the main living floor (+1.6), this to clearly separate the two functions. At a lower lever is the bathroom floor. This is to avoid the bathroom volume interfering or compromising with the field of view from the living area.

These different levels and volumes are fluidly and seamlessly welded together, creating a soft, flowing internal landscape. Every surface will be covered with soft padded white leather. Throughout the internal spaces soft, indirect lighting will be available in different settings and configurations. This will enable an optimal view outside during the hours of darkness.



Posted on Tuesday December 23rd 2008 at 2:09 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Mowgli

    UFO much?

  • Bas

    I hope it will be built and not just stay another marketing exercise by Lovegrove… gosh, just saw the video, could he be more of a hollywood design stereotype?

  • good you have given a lot more details…thanks.

  • Wow this looks incredible, I´d love to enter this pod :D

  • Trumbo

    Can´t find any improvement over Suuronen´s Futuro but covering it all in mirror. If this is their contribution to dwelling: fashionable wind/solar sticks which don´t get any power from the light reflected from the snow floor (more powerfull than sky light at the Alps) and not taking profit of the water around to collect, melt and treat it for dwellers use… then this is just fashionable graphics. Futuro solved more questions, it was serious. This is NOT.
    Pretty poetic mirror camouflage, i must admit, but full of lies and contemporary neglection. They´d better settle a mirror there and take wonderfull pictures, that would be honest and beautiful. Otherwise this makes no sense and is like a bad joke for good proffesionals. Or pick any god serious project you like and stamp your logo on it. That´s pretty close to what they are doing, in fact.

  • jet

    love it… amazing

  • NA

    So, when I open the ‘door’ all of my warm air rushes out? An igloo (or any standard snow shelter) would be more suited. Furthermore, why is the exterior mirrored? Wouldn’t this reflect most of the solar radiation that you would otherwise be able to use to heat the space and water?

    This design doesn’t seem to have given any consideration to the fact that you are in the alps. It’s just another UFO project…and not a very captivating one at that.

  • katy

    This is a beautifull project.
    NA: it has a reflective shell because it take it’s energy(thus heating) with wind and solar power, AND at night when the temperature is at it’s coldest, it reflects the cold out and the warm in, simple radiation of temperature being bounced off the reflective material… same principle for these reflective blankets they use to rescue people from hypothermia in extreme environments.

    this design is bold, simple, pure and plain beautiful and reflects the human organic physiognomy for it’s interior, it’s ergonomics.
    It seems that a simple curve make’s too many people unconfortable and think it’s a thing from outerspace, UFO or blob or whatever you wanna call it. The world as we know it is coming to an end!
    one word: SHALLOW
    kudos for them trying to push the envelope and do good architectural design.

  • amazing wprk of erflections

  • Andreas

    1) If the reflective shell indeed is able to “reflect the cold” I am truly impressed by this project (and the laws of physics have to be rewritten…)
    From my training as an architect I would guess that convection might cause by far the bigger loss of energy and a mirrored glass would only reduce the solar intake.
    2) Besides, I also think that those “fiberglass-ergonomics” are not very contemporary. (The idea that something has to fit perfectly.)
    And as a mounaineer I have my doubts that the 360°-views are really more impressive than gazing at dawn trough a tiny window to check if the weather is favourable for your ski tour.
    3) To me, this project is an almost perfect architectural embodiment of what Slavoj Žižek calls the principle of “chocolate laxatives”. It has all the paraphernalia of environmentalism, but its hidden motivation really is: How can we continue to exploit nature, in this case touristically, without having to change our habits or addressing the really troubling questions.

  • Did anyone see that Foster’s city hall (the testicle) in London just got an energy ‘E’ rating? It’s pretty shameful. It’s pretty easy to propose ‘impressive’ things without substance – and Lovegrove seems to be a master of this.

    Blah-blarchitecture – as someone else coined.

  • nik

    its a copy of werner Sobeks R129 – isnt’ it?

  • john smith

    my small child interrupted my browsing to ask…’does it take off?’ when she found out it didnt she went right back to Charlie and Lola

  • jacob

    Archigram, anyone? This concept has been done better by others…30 years ago.

  • agata


  • nothingbutcode

    “Made from advanced technologies that support the magic of a pure water droplet that landed as a space ship, from another world to help us feel and breathe in another condition the beauty of expansive space and intellectual tranquillity.”

    seriously? ha!

  • carmela

    un’idea stupenda per economizzare. posizionando la struttura non solo sulle alpi ma anche su un qualsiasi palazzo di Roma, sicuramente,il sole può essere catturato ovunque.

  • Boss

    Agreed wih much Andreas said,
    two tickets: 1233$
    2hot dogs,2 popcorns,and 2 sodas $22
    real experience of nature:priceless
    There are some things money can t buy.
    For everything else there s ***** Card
    Accepted all over_ even major alpine sites

  • xtiaan

    so like this is my mountaintop office where i plan to take over the world and stoke my cat with my gloved hand whilst laughing in an evil manner.

  • Luxury Larry

    How do one stoke your cat?

  • francesco

    Amazing its simple conception of being a part of the whole nature.
    A drop of water inside the ocean of sensations.
    It could be the “proustian” bubble of an amniotic experience of inner feelings. -francesco-

  • Pierre Sinsua

    it seems francesco is the only few who grasp the idea. we should not just simply look at what is being built but the entire surroundings. it looks magnificent in its natural habitat but would look like what the critics has lashed out if it were to be seen as a design excersive in itself.

    the word ‘alpine’ has been installed there for a reason, it is designed to compliment the alpine.

  • Pierre Sinsua

    it would look brilliant in its surroundings but not by itself. in the middle of the desert, sea or any mass view. very very clever

  • this is the future of the prefabricated house:)