The House
Project by Carlo Scoccianti | Interventions

TThe house has always been synonymous with construction, and therefore intimately tied to the human will and skill to create an environment suited to people’s needs.


Many other animal species have also mastered the ability to “build a shelter”, modifying a certain environmental situation according to their needs, so much so that it is often possible to identify the specific species that created a nest, den or lair from the type of construction built. 

In humans, this act has also acquired symbolic value over time due to all the affective associations that the concept of “home” evokes.

The form and type of this intervention recall the notion of “house” and revisit it in a broader context by referring to other species as well.   

The artwork is placed at the centre of the new work-site of Lake Prataccio, created through the large-scale excavation and remodelling of this vast area.


The work focuses on a small pre-existing structure consisting of a single room, which had been lying in a state of neglect for many years and was now unsafe. In the past, it was probably used as an agricultural tool shed. Furthermore, it was evident that the building had undergone several changes over the years (such as poor-quality additions of extraneous materials in the walls). In this state, the building was of little architectural interest and it would even have been possible to demolish it when the new lake basin was built. 


However, the small structure closely matched that typical, albeit basic image of a “house” that is so deeply rooted in our imagination, of the kind that a child might draw when asked to depict a simple dwelling: a small building with a sloping roof, a door and two small windows.


When designing the new lake, the decision was therefore made to keep the house on a small island. As it was badly damaged, however, it was thoroughly surveyed before being dismantled and then rebuilt from scratch – in the same position and with the same dimensions, and replacing the extraneous materials with local ones that respected its original characteristics. The stones and bricks used for the reconstruction originated from the ruins of old farmhouses in the area (thanks to donations from the owners). In this way, the small building has symbolically brought together the “historical imprint of building” typical of the plain.


Once the reconstruction was complete, the work proceeded to isolate the structure on a small island, which was modelled by excavating the ground all around it. The new large lake basin encompassing the structure is an immense man-made architectural work conceived to meet the needs of thousands of living beings, from the smallest, almost invisible, to the largest. All of them can now find their “home” there. In a radical change of perspective, architecture has for the first time shifted its focus from humans to other species.


As a symbol of this shift thanks to its essential form as a house, the small building has become a “monument to architecture”, embodying the fulfilment of the discipline with a more universal character.


The symbolic value of the work, underlined by the fact that it is isolated in the middle of a lake and therefore inaccessible to direct use by its builders (humans), becomes a stimulus for a broader reflection on the possibility of forgoing the construction of new architecture and rethinking the use of pre-existing buildings (or of the land on which they were built) in a new way and with simple projects, aimed at reconstituting an area’s typical landscape and the conservation of biodiversity. 






Area of intervention

Protected area of the WWF Oasis Stagni di Focognano, Campi Bisenzio (Florence). 

The area is located within the Site of Community Importance (SCI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) of the Stagni della Piana Fiorentina e Pratese (Natura 2000 code IT5140011).


Status before intervention

Arable land cultivated with intensive farming methods, also with the presence of vegetable gardens and illegally constructed sheds, often used for the storage of building materials.  


Type of intervention

Small building: external dimensions 3.50 x 3.80 x 2.70 m (at roof summit); empty interior volume. Rebuilt with old recovered building materials (bricks and local raw stone). 

The main feature of this intervention is the involvement of volunteers in the construction of the entire structure (social art intervention).

In a society where the different crafts and professions are now clearly separated, this intervention intended to bring people back to reliving the primitive experience of building a house.

The work thus takes the form of repeating the ancestral act of erecting one’s own refuge, a legacy of knowledge and common practice shared by every population until relatively recent times. This gesture therefore opens a reflection on the path of human society and its current different relationship with the land, raw materials, place and one’s territory of residence.


Work status

Completed (November 2016).


Authorities/agencies involved

- Committee for the WWF Oases of the Florence area


Main bioindicators used to monitor the ecological functionality of the work-element

- Ardeidae, with particular reference to night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), little egrets (Egretta garzetta), grey herons (Ardea cinerea) and cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis): roost.
- Little owls (Athene noctua): roost.
- Passeriformes: roost.
- Bats: refuge.