17 December 2013
A little masterpiece of engineering: LEAPrus 3912, the high-altitude refuge designed and built by the Turinese studio LEAPfactory on the southern slopes of Mount Elbrus, in the Caucasus, at a height of 4000 meters. Run by the North Caucasus Mountain Club, the complex has 49 beds, a common kitchen-living area, bathrooms and accommodation for the staff, and is formed of prefabricated units made in Italy, airlifted to the mountain and assembled on site. The shells of high-performance resin and fiberglass provide great mechanical resistance with a contained weight. The extremely harsh environmental conditions placed major constraints on the design, right from the fabrication stage. The structure is self-sufficient from the viewpoint of energy, thanks to an autonomous hybrid system integrated with a set of sodium accumulators, an air recirculation system with heat recovery, LED lighting, underfloor heating adapted to the very low outdoor temperatures and a system for melting snow for the supply of water. The structure can be operated remotely, via satellite. Finally, to reduce the pollution caused by sewage, a special purifying filter has been used, adapted to cope with very cold climates.