They work at high altitudes, but now they have also come down to the valley: Stefano Testa and Luca Gentilcore, founders in 2012 of LeapFactory, have built on the experience they have gained in extreme, difficult places.

With quick, light, high-performance constructions (at 2835 meters, the Giusto Gervasutti refuge in the Mont Blanc group at Courmayeur), and in the outdoor space of the headquarters of Cleaf in Lissone, they have displayed the results of their latest research: a house conceived and built as a single integrated process of industrial production, getting beyond the distinction between the constructed enclosure and the internal decor. Delivered as a ‘turnkey’ project and ready for interpretation in other typologies, forms and finishes.

Customized by the user in terms of configuration and mood. The philosophy of Frame – the name of the first LeapHome model – is like that of Lego blocks, or construction sets, like a kit with a user’s manual.

“All the components have been engineered for production with numerically controlled machines,” the designers explain. “The parts are assembled by interlocking at the site. There is no need for other workmanship, specialized craftsmen, big cranes and extra costs. This shifts the perspective towards construction with lower environmental impact.”

In practice, the structure in microlamellar wood (produced in Germany) hosts the physical plant systems, from the technological parts (designed based on the geographical location and placed in conduits that can be opened for service) to pre-wired electrical systems, all the way to fixed furnishings (wardrobes, chests of drawers, bookcases, pantries). The furnishings are all compact volumes featuring material surfaces by Cleaf.

“We used their faced panels, laminates and decorative borders,” the architects explain, “because they are industrial semi-finished products with a very high technological profile, offering guaranteed sourcing and performance in terms of reliability, precision, lightness and strength.” A chain of supply and production certified for quality and sustainability, in tune with the spirit of the project.

The next challenges? “The Italian market,” the designers say, “where there is still an established tradition, with the image of the house built with stone or brick. At present, the most receptive markets are in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Text Antonella Boisi