Well, it actually looks like summer is finally here. The Swiss sun – severely shy of late – has been poking its head out and the mercury has been rising sharply in our thermometers.
With many Europeans cursing the weather for the last month for being so cold and rainy, knowing our luck it will now turn into a heat wave that will have us complaining just as strongly that it is now too hot, fickle bunch that we are.
In the unlikely event that the summer temperatures get unbearable for you – as in too hot – as well as sipping on an ice-cold drink and fanning yourself with a Panama hat, another way of cooling down a degree or two will be to feast your eyes on this spectacular alpine refuge – and imagine yourself in a place with a soothing glacial breeze in the air.
Called the Nuova Capanna Gervasutti – the New Gervasutti Hut – this eye-catching survival unit took two days to install on the Freboudze glacier, Italy in front of the stunning Grandes Jorasses of the Mont Blanc massif by Italian architectural agency LEAPfactory.
The "LEAP" in LEAPfactory stands for Living, Ecological, Alpine and Pod, highlighting this firm"s desire to design, create and produce modular structures which have minimal impact on the extreme environments they are built for. This one cost €250,000 to develop.
Since the beginning of this year, the Gervasutti cantilever has been ready for use to provide mountaineers and climbers with a comfortable and funky place to lay their tired heads for the night.
Each module of the refuge is entirely prefabricated – from the outer protective shell to the interior fittings – and they were transported by helicopter and assembled on site in just a few hours thanks to their light density, weighing a total of 2,500kg.
The module design means that they can be planned and constructed based on specific requirements, and can be customised specifically for the location they will be installed at so as to they blend in neatly with the surrounding environment.
The refuge living area is lit in the daytime via a big, panoramic window facing towards the valley and contains a kitchen, a dining table and seating. The sleeping area is equipped with 12 bunk beds and spaces for the storage of gear while the wooden interior finish recalls a traditional mountain hut. All in all, there is 30 square metres of usable space.
What"s more, the unit contains an integrated monitoring station to provide instant information on the interior comfort and the out-door weather conditions, processing data which can be distributed via the internet. Solar panels integrated into the outer shell provide the electricity needed, generating 2.5 Kwh of solar energy.
On the outside, the distinctive red and white pattern has been especially chosen to be easily recognisable at a distance, to form an important reference point for mountaineers. The textural design is apparently inspired by the "shaved straight stitch" of mountain pullovers to evoke warmth and comfort.
To find out more about New Refuge Gervasutti and other projects by LEAPfactory, please visit: www.leapfactory.it/index_eng.html