The 1948 Gervasutti bivouac hut, situated close to the Fréboudze Glacier on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, has recently been replaced with a "modular, comfortable, technologically sophisticated shelter".
The original hut was an unmanned basic shelter and was for emergency use only. The new hut has been installed and will be officially open for use in the spring of 2012, and although it will still be unmanned, it will require online booking prior to a stay.
However, the hut has met with a lot of local criticism and is reportedly far from an ideal mountain haven. Points raised about the shelter have been; the internet connection doesn't work (this may change by the time the hut is officially opened in summer 2012), you need a ladder to access the hut (see photos) as the door hangs precariously above a large drop (this also may change by next summer), the location itself is exposed to avalanches (the old hut was "huddled" against the rock because of this), the placement of the solar panels flat on the roof means that they're most likely unusable for all the snowy part of the year and the air exchanger below the hut is very delicate, yet is vital to airflow when the doors and windows are closed.
How will the space-age hut perform? Time will tell, but we welcome any reports from UKC readers who go and experience it first hand.
More photos of the new hut: