Practicing Bioarchitecture - ISPLORA

Trailer Practicing Bioarchitecture

Architecture, the art of building, Bio, conducive to life, Eco, balance with the environment, Logic, intelligence, reason. Bioecological Architecture
There is in fact a deep relationship between design and the surrounding environment, between compositional identity and context, capable of understanding natural elements and translating them into design value. Dialogue, reciprocity. Bioecological architecture becomes the manifesto of a process of attentive listening to the place it is set in, welcoming its chromatic nuances and changes over time, season after season. Materials and building orientation thus become the protagonists of a narration that depicts domestic spaces with great formal tension - between pure shapes and design research, freedom of movement and long perspectives - where the landscape is an integral part of contemporary living.

Practicing Bioarchitecture is a talk whose protagonists are the designers of Studio Ecoarch, a firm committed to being constantly updated on sustainability issues, conceiving and realizing works of great formal tension, combining compositional rigor with deep research on natural materials and careful reflection on innovative technologies such as wooden structures and advanced plant engineering.
The excursus describes various aspects of bioecological design in its specific and constructive aspects: technological details are translated into skillful compositional finishes, where pure lines emphasize alternating solids and voids, shadows and geometric rigor.

The talk starts with a view of Lake Maggiore, through the description of Casa PR, a property nestled on a hillside facing the west and the Alpine range, characterized by a steep terraced slope. A building with a plan resembling a regular, rectangular-shaped footprint, made of two parts: a stereometric basement, clad in slabs of stone and partially embedded in the ground, characterized only by the cuts of the openings and windows, to be used as sleeping area, and a lighter volume, the living area, leaning on the former in a backward position, characterized by large, glazed surfaces and covered overhangs.
A complex building site in terms of construction and technology that turns into a structure with high energy performance and advanced plant engineering. Expertly narrated and executed by the Studio Ecoarch professionals, an in-depth look is dedicated to the use of a limited selection of materials: slabs of stone, very light-colored plaster, iron profiles for the window and door frames, extra-clear crystal for the parapets and stainless steel for tinsmithing.

The narration continues with a detailed analysis of building with wood with the design of Casa NM, along with Casa BG and Casa MM
Casa NM reveals energy-efficient technological and building solutions, as it is conceived according to the criteria of bioecological architecture: the basic parallelepiped, designed with an X-LAM wooden structure and natural materials, is a compact and pure form, dug firmly through the cuts that organize the entrance, double-height loggia and terrace and characterize its facades. The dialogue between the plaster painted in white and the exposed wooden surfaces is a tribute to the examples of vernacular architecture of the immediate surroundings but, as in other projects by the firm, with no form of mimicry.
Casa BG, moreover, presents itself as a prefabricated wooden and bioarchitectural house with a distinctive feature: it is in a splendid location but with a view opposite to the south. This convinced the Studio Ecoarch architects to adopt bio-climatic solutions that can balance the important solar intake (south) with the view (west and north). For this reason, service spaces are to the south, while living spaces are to the north to enjoy the view; the large glass doors of the kitchen and the bio-climatic greenhouse mitigate the fact that the living room has no direct southern exposure.

A talk that focuses on different building and architectural typologies, from new detached houses to traditional building and urban-scale interventions, in which bioecological architecture returns a contemporary and sustainable voice to the “built-up” world and, on a larger scale, greater awareness of good intervention practices.  

In fact, Studio Ecoarch, with the project of Casa EE, suggests an energetic and functional redevelopment of an early 20th-century house. The key solution chosen by the firm is to redesign interior spaces while preserving the overall aesthetics of the building, providing insulation within the envelope: this insulation, in fact, is on the inner face of the perimeter walls and at the intrados of the roof, and is made of toasted brown cork insulation, two gypsum-fiber sheets and plasterboard. The floors on the ground will be insulated with sheets of cellular glass, also to mitigate radon gas.
In closing, the Studio Ecoarch designers turn their attention to the Albizzate project, where construction techniques and a bioclimatic design approach - as well as the firm’s own philosophy - are used on a wide scale, with a desire to show the extensive and variable possibilities of intervention on contemporary buildings.

“If we look at the environmental situation of Planet Earth, we can see that the current development model is about to reach its breaking point. General awareness is needed to understand how this situation came about, to avoid the looming catastrophe by inventing a new model, which can stop this process of self-destruction.”
Opening words of the Manifesto for a Bioecological Architecture drafted by ANAB - National Association for Bioecological Architecture - written in Udine on October 15, 1989.

Learning objectives:

  • The topic of bioecological design reveals special attention to the relationship with the context, the surrounding ecosystem in which the building is set, the choice of a specific orientation in relation to natural (and consequently artificial) lighting, the definition of natural and sustainable building materials;
  • The lesson provides an in-depth analysis of wood construction, in relation to its design and definition on the construction site and its material cyclicity (since it’s a material that can be easily reused and disassembled once it has fulfilled its function); specifically X-LAM construction and on-site construction phases, showing the effectiveness and speed of such execution, in accordance with the basic principles of bioclimatic architecture;
  • The topic of the complexity of the Casa PR construction site becomes an opportunity to highlight and emphasize the analysis of the territory and geological component of the lot, in relation to the existing substrate, and of the construction site of a building complex from a technological and constructive point of view, as it is equipped with a two-volume overlapping structure with a belvedere and swimming pool;
  • The lesson explores bioclimatic architecture in its interpretation at different scales and in relation to contexts characterized by existing buildings, often dating back to the early 20th century: attention to materials and sustainability thus become topics of an in-depth study of the choices made as to materials of the past and spatiality, which also comprises memory, today related to contemporary living.

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