Oh, look. It’s just another retreat shaped like a missile, painted like a Christmas sweater, and hanging clear off the side of a mountain.
Architects have officially lost their marbles! These particular architects, LEAPfactory, were enabled by the Turin arm of the Italian Alpine Club, which wanted to build an overnight hikers’ hut to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its ski-mountaineering school.
The New Refuge Gervasutti cantilevers over the eastern face of the mega-huge, mega-scary Grandes Jorasses in the western Alps–a location so remote, the shelter’s parts had to be prefabricated off-site, then helicoptered in. The Christmas-sweater pattern was added to make the place jarringly visible to mountaineers and skiers.
Inside, the shelter is designed to create a “pleasing and relaxing experience.” It has a kitchen, a table with seating, bunk beds, and plenty of storage space. An integrated computer offers detailed information about the weather and climate. And the trimmings are done up in a cozy wood finish. You could nearly mistake the place for a pint-sized Swiss chalet. Except for that whole part about the kitchen jutting out over nothing but air.
The New Refuge Gervasutti was completed in October. Unlike a lot of mountain retreats, it’s open to the public, and it’s free. Though if you’re anything like me (i.e. a big old wussy) someone would have to pay you to stay there.