New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory


New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Climbers in the Alps can now spend their nights sleeping in a tube that cantilevers over the edge of a mountain.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Top: photograph by Francesco Mattuzzi

Named New Refuge Gervasutti, the survival unit was designed by Italian architects LEAPfactory, who specialise in modular accommodation for extreme environments.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

The tube was prefabricated off-site and airlifted to the site by helicopters.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Above: photograph by Marco Destefanis

A red pattern decorates the structure's exterior to make it visible to climbers and mountaineers, who will often be approaching from a distance.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Above: photograph by Michelangelo Filippi

Bunk beds and storage closets occupy the back of the pod, whilst a living room with integrated kitchen and dining table are located inside the cantilever.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Above: photograph by Michelangelo Filippi

A large window gives guests a wide view of the landscape outside and an integrated computer provides detailed information about the weather and climate.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Another survival bunker we've featured protects its inhabitants from attack rather than the weather - see that mobile, indestructible dwelling here.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Photography is by Gughi Fassino, apart from where otherwise stated.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Above: Photograph by Marco Destefanis

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Here's a more detailed explanation from LEAPfactory:

“New Refuge Gervasutti” by LEAPfactory

This, the first alpine refuge of the latest generation, it provides the optimal combination of comfort, safety and respect for the environment. It was installed in mid October 2011 in Courmayeur (IT) on the Freboudze glacier, in front of the spectacular East face of the Grandes Jorasses of the Mont Blanc Range. It is now ready for use by mountaineers and climbers.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

The Gervasutti refuge was commissioned by CAI Torino, the Italian Alpine Club. Under the guidance of SUCAI the subsection of CAI Torino and the Ski Mountaineering School, the project was realised thanks to the works team coordinated by the LEAPfactory project managers Luca Gentilcore and Stefano Testa.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Above: Photograph by Michelangelo Filippi

The refuge represents the pinnacle of achievement of LEAPfactory, (the acronym means Living, Ecological, Alpine Pod) an Italian Company that designs, creates and produces modular structures which have minimal impact on the environment.

The realisation of the refuge is a great achievement, in that the materials used are of a high standard and use sophisticated technology capable of handling the problems of extreme temperatures and the difficulties of installation, given the altitude and the position in the midst of a glacier.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Each module is entirely prefabricated, from the outer protective shell to the interior fittings. All the modules were transported by helicopter thanks to their light weight and assembled on site in just a few hours.

The modules’ particular design means that they can be planned and constructed based on the specific requirements and can be customised depending on the location where they are to be positioned, in order to make them in keeping with the surrounding environment.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

The modular structure is an ideal way to solve the specific requirements of any particular location and it allows for future expansion and the replacement of damaged parts over the life of the module.

The living area is lit in the daytime by a big panoramic window facing towards the valley and it contains a kitchen, a table and seating. The sleeping area is equipped with bunk beds and spaces for the storage of gear.

The comfortable wooden interior finish recalls a traditional mountain hut and is intended to make a stay in the LEAP module, a pleasing and relaxing experience.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Its integrated monitoring station provides instant information on the interior comfort and the out-door weather conditions and processes data which can be distributed via the Web. The total electrical requirements are provided by the photovoltaic panels integrated in the outer shell.

The exterior colours, easily recognisable at a distance, are an important reference point for mountaineers. The outer textural design is inspired by the shaved straight stitch of mountain pullovers to evoke warmth and comfort.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

LEAP is a project that proposes a change in lifestyle as great as that promised by the Radical Architectural Utopias. In the sixties, the Archigram collective designed robotic self-moving “Walking Cities”. On more practical grounds they tried to produce “Living Pods” (such as the Cushicle or the Sutaloon), self-sufficient capsules for survival in hostile situations, these became also an inspiration for those aspiring to a non traditional lifestyle.

Also in development at LEAPfactory is a project studying disposal of human waste and other refuse, a problem which remains one of the greatest challenges for those who frequent the mountains and other places to be protected. The LEAP objective is focused on resolving those problems through the development of a module dedicated to the elimination of refuse for sensitive locations, like the high mountains and all such places, where it is difficult to dispose of it.

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory


Architects: Luca Gentilcore / Gandolfi & Gentilcore, Stefano Testa / Cliostraat
Design Team: Edoardo Boero, Marilena Cambuli, Massimo Teghille

Structural engineering: Luca Olivari / Olivari Composite Engineering, Andrea Bruzzone
Electrical engineering: EDF-ENR spa, Carlo Sasso, Andrea Sasso, Giampaolo Pittatore, Enrico Pons
Brand Design: Massimo Teghille & Undesign
Other consultants: Alberto Morino (geologia), Federico Valfrè di Bonzo (nivologia e valanghe)

Owner: Italian Alpine Club CAI Turin
Promoted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the SUCAI Ski Mountaineering School

New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory

Cost: 250.000,00 € (Total budget)
Design phase: sept. 2009 – dec 2010
Construction phase: may 2011 – oct 20100
Realization: Poligamma, Biella (composite materials), GVM Arreda, Torino (interiors), Plat Andrea, Aosta (on site works)

Nuova Capanna Gervasutti numbers:
30 square metres of usable space
6 contact points with the ground
2500 kg total weight
12 bed spaces
2.5 Kwh of solar energy produced
2 day to install unit

  • amonbob

    Cool, it’s like a save station in a video game!

  • Reminds me of the movie Alive.

  • Really nice project; I bet 80% of the budget was spent on transportation.

  • toomuchcoffeeman

    Looks absolutely stunning, great view.
    Climbers' dream.

  • Why is it, that the first thing that comes to mind is… "Hang on, lads; I've got a great idea."?

    I find this type of architecture & design thoroughly fascinating, even more so in such an extreme setting. But those doors look perilously close to the edge, terrifyingly so for an occasional sleep walking explorer such as myself.

    I am wondering about the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells when entirely covered by snow though? Presumably they're still capable of generating power when covered, but what of their performance when covered in snow in a multi-day storm? I'm assuming there's a battery back-up facility?

    And I do like that red pattern.

    Extremely well thought out, even better executed. Completely, utterly fabulous.

  • Peter

    Love the photographs and the fact that this is build! Wouldn´t hesitate to spend a night there if I could. Great piece of capsule architecture in a breath taking natural environmnet. Congratulations!

  • amsam

    I adore the Christmas-sweater paint job, but am I the only person getting tired of these cantilevers? Still, what a view. And wow, who knew the Italian Mountaneer's club would have such deep pockets? I wonder how many adventurers get up there in a year.

  • chris

    reminds me of the italian job coach cliffhanger

  • Ross

    now for the tricky part, getting to it.

  • The entrance looks quite high off the existing rock face – you would need a ladder to get up there!

  • rock

    the knitted red jersey sleeve is a nice detail. great project

  • filippo

    lovely…but looking at the door….you need to be an amazing climber to get in!

  • nixus

    remember the snow! That´s why the entrance is so high above the ground,

  • Go Chopper ( Photo 9)! Photo 10- Awesome!

  • Senor Holdit

    Appreciated the thoughts in this about disposal of human waste in these environments…so, um, where does the human waste go in this case? I guess that's why the door is so high up.

  • Hi, everybody! thanks for your comments. I provide you some answers about some of your topics:
    – @ Octavio: transportaton costs are very small. 3 module and the beam base were assembled on site in 1 day and the last module was assembled 2 days after, because of bad wind conditions… so in the end, not so many flight by the eli.

    – @ many of you: the ladder is still missing but it'll be assembled in spring, so everybody wlill be able to get in… it's a path for well experienced hikers up there, so not really for "everybody".

    – @ Senor: Leapfactory has just invented a disposal for human waste on the heigts. check our website in the next weeks and you ll'see it.

    – @ Gavin: this hut is supposed to be used more in spring- summer-fall than in winter time. that's the access to the tricky East Face of Grandes Jorasses, that can be climbed in those seasons. So solar panels are provided (with 2 batterise) to give their best in that period.

    -@ everybody: the Chirstmas sweater patternwas design by Massimo Teghille and Undesign ( that designed all the Leap brand identity too.

    thanks a lot for your appreciations.
    for further news:

    • Fed

      Wow, impressed that you actually took your time to respond to the comments. Very cool project by the way. I love the fact that you focused the design on the practicality without neglecting the eye.

  • Wow, it looks like amazing…. I'd be afraid of walking in that floor.

  • It looks like amazing. I guess that's why the door is so high up.

  • etabeta

    I don't understand why they set this refuge up overhanging the cliff so much. My question is what will happens if all the occupants go near the end window, or how about 200km/h gusts of wind?
    Unless the rock-facing side is securely fastened to the mountainside this is going to be a disaster.
    From what I can see it seems to be just sitting on pods, and considering the 2500kg total weight, 12 occupants that weigh 100kg each all on the extreme end at once will offset the balance and send everything down the hill!
    The article could have covered these particulars with more detail.

  • Rocky

    details by LEAPFACTORY themselves through comments is awesome! attractive architecture…. Congrats!

  • Great house, I like it.