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LEAP Into the (Italian) Future of Mountain Huts


We Americans tend to like our backcountry dwellings, whether they be the 10th Mountain Division Huts in Colorado or the Appalachian Mountain Club lodges out East, to be sturdy stone or wood structures in the tradition of the rugged homesteaders of our national story. "Eco-friendly" in our imaginations has been as much about blending in aesthetically with the surrounding landscape as solar panels on the roof and making sure the vistors' poo doesn't screw up the local ecosystem. But LEAPfactory, an Italian architecture outfit, believes a composite tube resembling a painted Subway sandwich on stilts is what we should actually be building if we want to be sustainable in the mountains.

LEAP's distinct idea has been to design a series of purpose-built pods containing living rooms/kitchens, entryways, and bunk rooms that can be pre-fabricated at the factory and then airlifted via helicopter to the alpine site. They're then bolted together in any sequece the plan demands on a platform of stilts. The thinking is that putting a pre-fabricated structure on "tip toes" without concrete or other foundational structures minimizes the ecological footprint, and the fact that the structure is essentially temporary - that it can be completely dissembled and brought back to the valley on helicopter - minimizes its true effect on the environment. LEAP's other designs involve a host of temporary structures tailored to high-alpine cattle grazing, trash collection, and emergency shelters.

While LEAP's pod design is supposed to be able to weather harsh alpine weather (like the kind you might find at the site in the photos, high up on Mont Blanc), and the cylindrical shape might theoretically do so, most Americans' idea of hunkering down during the storm involves lots of heavy stone surrounding us and a giant fireplace. What do you think, Curbed readers, could you weather a storm in the Alps perched up in this pod?
· Refuge Gervasutti [LEAPfactory]