two ‘houses of cards’ in italy
ELASTICOfarm interrupts the suburban fabric of torrazza piemonte, italy with its ‘houses of cards’ dwellings. the project comprises two neighboring houses, each made up of a cluster of volumes and intersecting planes. the team notes the extensive research, design, and experimentation of materials, technology, and program.
while the project was commissioned in 2015, it is the result of years of research into building structures, materials, and technologies. for ten years, the architects at ELASTICO farm have studied experimental applications of prefabricated structures. at the same time, the team worked with the brick, stone, wood, and reinforced concrete industries to reimagine the possibilities for alternative uses.
the two ‘houses of cards’ | images © atelier XYZ
a sardinian granite structure
the architects at ELASTICOfarm build the ‘houses of cards’ with sardinian granite, a material which is unique, relatively inexpensive, and abundant. the team notes the history of the durable material and its widespread usage for structural purposes — it was actually used for the pantheon’s sixteen corinthian columns. in contemporary building, sardinian granite is seen mainly in cladding and flooring.
seeking to support the use of locally quarried stone, the design team designs its houses of cards with monolithic slabs of granite, cut directly from the excavation site. the concept of these load-bearing panels came from the observation of the excavation process and the technologies with which the rock is extracted and trimmed.
the cat house, built first with an intuitive and orthogonal logic
cat house and dog house
the project is an exploration of the use of large granite slabs as a load-bearing construction element. both houses take shape as three levels of stacked partitions which connect by way of intersecting cuts and metal dowels. designing the structure, the architects combined the granite slabs with concrete panels — while this decision was mainly made to avoid a lengthy certification process, the team found that colored concrete panels helped to understand the limits and opportunities of the material.
the two ‘houses of cards’ comprise two dwellings — the cat house and the dog house. while the cat house was built first and shows an intuitive and orthogonal logic, the dog house is designed with more complex angles, solving the structural problems identified in the construction of the former. with its simple scheme, the cat house had certain weaknesses which required metal bracings and reinforcements to resist transverse forces. instead, the structurally efficient dog house is organized around a central courtyard and does not require additional bracings due to its complex radial logic.
the dog house, built second with an optimized structural system
the dog house is built with complex angles three levels of partitions are connected by intersecting planes