#2 The Community of Casaprota receives educational pavilion for local activities

On July 28th 2017 the BIØN-team leaded by AK0 with the help of the local partner association Sabinarti delivered the outcome of LearnBIØN workshop#2 to the local community of Casaprota, the small town in central Italy that has hosted the workshop. More than twenty builders from different parts of the world and with various cultural backgrounds gathered for four weeks to learn about lightweight building techniques with raw earth and other natural materials. The educational activities produced a small piece of architecture within an existing concrete structure that was unused for 40 years. The municipality of Casaprota accepted AK0’s proposal to reactivate this abandoned space.

Two techniques have been used more intensively, light earth and quincha (wattle-and-daub). Both use timber frames as bearing structure and provide closures with a notable climatic performance. Light earth uses straw fibres as main resource. A liquid mass of clay glues them together in a monolithic wall element. The main technique is a reinterpretation of the quincha houses like they are still built in the Andean highlands, especially in those areas that suffer a high risk of seismic events. It is based on raw earth walls that are held by timber frames with a woven structure of giant reed canes. All the used materials are available in central Italy as well as in Latin America. The technique combines structural lightness with the benefits of raw earth masses that are protected by natural insulation materials, which creates a enjoyable inner climate, both in winter and in summer conditions.

The summer behaviour has already triggered the surprise of the numerous visitors who used the inauguration event to have a look inside and feel the pleasant sense of chill while the outside temperatures hardly dropped below 30°C even at late night. Partly, the visitors’ surprise was due to the opportunity to enter a space that remained unfinished and inaccessible for decades while screening the view on a breathtaking piece of landscape.

The workshop-building celebrates this landscape with a large panoramic window which can also be used as a sitting niche. The position of the new volume within the existing building aims at generating free spaces that are roofed but ventilated. They now have an inviting conformation and are waiting to be used.

An additional wall helps to frame the space. It has been built with the same quincha-technique, woven canes on a timber frame support. In this case, however, a small regional company prefabricated the timber frames using CNC-machines in order to cope with the woven geometry of the wall-screen. This undulated façade is part of a broader research that AK0 is running on the integration of prefabrication and self-construction. The team is convinced that this binomial can provide useful solutions for the future building market in Europe and abroad.

In meanwhile in Casaprota, the screen and the heatable volume act as a graft; they are small compared to the whole plant but with a little care they may provide good fruits.

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