Molehill on a Mountain: Sustainable Retreat Hits the Slopes


If you can manage to get to it, this mountain retreat offers stunning views and many of the comforts of home…but it does so from its rather precarious-looking perch high up in the Alps. The tubular mountain survival lodge was fabricated off-site and airlifted into its place on the mountain by helicopters.

The New Refuge Gervasutti by LEAPfactory was installed in the Mont Blanc range as a retreat for climbers and mountaineers. The red sweater-type pattern on the pod’s exterior helps to distinguish it from the surrounding Freboudze glacier, providing a visual guide for climbers who are approaching the tiny getaway from a distance.

The intrepid few who can manage to reach the remote pod will be greeted with a distinctly space age-type interior. Bunk beds and storage areas are tucked into the back of the pod, closest to the mountain.

The front cantilevered segment of the structure is occupied by the kitchen and dining area which boasts a massive window. The breathtaking view from that window is spectacular enough to make the arduous climb up the mountain worth it.

Climbers who are continuing their journey or who are just curious about current climbing conditions can check the weather and mountain conditions from the pod’s integrated computer.

LEAPfactory is known for their Earth-friendly approach to prefabricated architecture, and the New Refuge Gervasutti does not fail to impress. It is built from sustainable materials to have a minimal impact on the environment. The company is currently working on a related project studying the most sanitary, effective, Earth-friendly way to dispose of human waste and other refuge, which is a rather troublesome prospect in remote locations like this one.

Atop the pod is an array of solar cells which provides all of the power needed to run the weather monitoring station and the other minimal electrical demands of the retreat. Enough natural light enters the pod through the front-side window during daylight hours that no artificial lights are needed then.

You might expect the interior of such a seriously useful structure to be devoid of style or lacking in grace. But the New Refuge Gervasutti boasts an interior that most apartments would envy. Rich woods, clean lines and subdued colors give this high-altitude hotel room a warm retrofuturistic feel that climbers may just be loathe to leave when their stay is over.

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