The house has always been synonymous with construction, and therefore intimately tied to the will and the skill of man to create an environment that suits a person's needs. The capacity to 'build a shelter,' modifying a certain environmental situation according to their needs, is actually also an activity that is undertaken by many animal species, so often that the type of construction can be directly attributed to the 'architect' of said construct. In regards to the 'home', man has attributed, through time, a symbolic value to the term and the act of building one.
The form and type of these two interventions recall the notion of 'building' and revisit the act in a larger context, referring as well to other species.
A - Intervention: The House
The work focuses on a small construct consisting of a single room, which in the past was probably used as a tool shed, but now after many years, perilously stands damaged and abandoned. At the beginning of the process it was evident that the building had undergone several changes throughout the years (evident changes of outdated and diverse materials had been added to the buildings walls). In this state, the building held little architectural interest and would have been possible to demolish it entirely at the beginning of a project for previously expected to change the landscape of the plain (Lake Prataccio, a new flood basin work-site and lake with an extension of approximately 17 hectares).
The small construct however had the features reminiscent of a 'home' in the most basic sense of the term. It corresponded exactly with the image of a typical 'home' a young boy would draw when first asked to design a drawing of a house: a small shed covered by a sloping roof with a door and an opening on each side.
In designing the new lake, the decision was made to keep the house on a small island while simultaneously demolishing and rebuilding it from scratch –in the same position and replacing the materials that were once out of context with local ones found in the region.
This work assumes the nature of a 'monument to architecture' due to its basic design and the fact it was now understood as a construct added to the work-site for its own sake, meaning it does not serve any purpose (for man) other than that of merely existing. The House will once more be abandoned, only this time, at the center of the lake; no man will come in contact with it, or take advantage of it, or ruin it, and even more importantly no man will inhabit it. It will become the 'home' of birds, to use for shelter, a place of rest. The project, by excluding man from its use, would like to stimulate a larger reflection in regards to planning, specifically the topic of 'renouncing' new expansion over the possibility of restoring already existing structures (or even the ground they stand on). Proposing thus, an alternative opportunity for future construction consisting of simpler projects focused more on the conservation of biodiversity and reclamation of the natural landscape of a region.
B - Intervention: The House of Others
This second work-element created instead a reflection in respect the erroneous practice of building in territory prone to flood and the risks associated with these decisions: the small house built of loose stones recalls an image of the upper parts of a building after a flood has passed, leaving the structure half submerged in mud. It's height (of approximately 1.5 m to the roof line) was in reality conceived in this manner to operate as a shelter for reptiles and other 'little fauna' species for whom it is not necessary to have shelter slightly elevated of the ground. The form and dimensions of the construct correspond exactly to the portion of the aforementioned 'house' in the middle of the lake.
The two interventions, placed at a distance of about 350 m one from the other, are thus understood to establish a dialogue that exists in respect to their dimensions, design, and location (one within and the other outside of the new Lake Prataccio).
Type of intervention
-The House: empty interior volume, external 3.50 x 3.80 x 2.70 (from roof's summit), to be built with ancient recovered building material (terracota and local raw stone).
-The House of Others: Internal volume filled, external 3.50 x 3.80 x 1.50 ( from roof's summit), to be built without mortar with raw stone (from the surrounding hills) and terracotta roof.
The main feature of both social interventions is the involvement of the population in the form of volunteers to build the structures (social art interventions). In a society in which the various technical and vocational roles are clearly separated, these interventions are designed to bring people who do not have previous experience with construction or have never been confronted with this type of work (the notion of building a 'house'). The work thus generates a direct tie to ancient practices of man, that of constructing refuge, a knowledge and practice divorced from contemporary society. This gesture therefore creates a reflection in regards to society and social consciousness when approaching working with land, raw materials, territory and essentially a sense of place.
Stage of the project
Main bio-indicators (species or ‘groups’ of species) reference for monitoring the ecological functionality of the Work-Site:
A - Intervention: The house
- Ardeidae (with particular attention to: Night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax; Little egret, Egretta garzetta; Grey heron, Ardea cinerea; Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis; Great white egret, Casmerodius albus ): roost.
- Little Owl (Athene noctua): roost.
B - Intervention: The house of others
- Amphibians (with particular attention to: Italian crested newt, Triturus carnifex ; Smooth newts, Lissotriton vulgaris;, green toads, Bufo viridis ; Italian tree frog, Hyla intermedia ): refuge throughout the winter and summer periods.
- Reptiles (with particular attention to: Moorish gecko, Tarentola mauritanica; Slow worm, Anguis fragilis; Western green lizard, Lacerta bilineata; Common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis; Italian wall lizard, Podarcis sicula; Western whip lizard, Hierophis viridiflavus; Grass snake, Natrix natrix): refuge.
- Little Owl (Athene noctua): roost.
-Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus):refuge.
Main authorities / agencies involved in the intervention
- Comitato per le Oasi WWF dell'Area Fiorentina