THE HILL OF THE SLEEPING DRAGON

Shortlisted / Closed Competition YAPP MAXXI 2014, with Errante Architetture. 

To make it possible and concrete, to make it really of everybody, an architecture has to be ordinary, elementary, in order to be established, towards the community, as an immediately appropriate model and so, as a common good.

There’s earth everywhere. It covers everything, layer to layer, and it is under any other.
Of rich soil there’s even less, and it is a precious support to preserve, to manage, to administer with care. To be fertilized so it can be grown, to be taken care of, to work with so it can receive seeds and produce, so it could yield one day.

Of terrain there are also made houses, entire constructions of soil, primordial forms, domes and mounds, primitive refuges, vases as deep as a space for sleeping or as solid as fortresses. Made of bricks, that is made of soil too kneaded with water, dried out by the sun or by blazing fire. Or made of rammed earth walls and poultices to protect them. Ground is one of the easiest and the most ancient materials of construction.
We have decided to work with that in our project, ground meant as a support for the birth, the growth and the generation of plant species, meant as feeding of the biological body and as a simple element for the construction.

Jute is a natural fibre that once beaten, embellished and weaved together it becomes a very strong material, cheap and hygroscopic. It has a nice scent of rope and it is entirely biodegradable. They gather from it, principally sacks, especially to contain foodstuffs, seeds, tubers, coffee and cacao.

The interaction between these two materials, earth and jute, defines the physic form of the project. The sacks of jute are used in the project as a technological element which upholsters the raw material. Soil finds the simple mould of the container and there it finds its place. Fill of terrain the sack. Just few shovelful, compress it a little and close the extremities. Twenty kilos. Lay one over the other. And that’s it. The sacks have to be piled one over the other to make a trench, like in the warehouses, then a wall and at the endtehy define an outside from where to access and an inside to be brought.
Of a distinct material, inside and outside, there’s no limit that has a clear definition.

Soon, from the canvas, even where there hasn’t been sown and planted, it can be seen showing up the grass or the growth of some group of mushrooms.
It’s rather a border, the one that the trench defines. More than a limit, it is a depth where different entities coexist.
Pioneer, colonising and covering plants, wild flowers, species of extensive plantation, wheat, millet, barley, beet tops that vibrate while growing. Mints, nettles, herbs like thyme take it in turns, flowers of courgettes and peas and beans compete for the space, they transform it.

The inside of the pavilion reminds a rural landscape, where the nature is inducted to grow in its variety, to modify the image and the limits of space. Kepos in Greek means garden. It’s a garden the one from where you access in once passed the stage opened to the square, a garden gathered around a shadow and pointed to a sunny gentle slope. A garden where you can sit, talk, be alone, taste, breathe, wait. Shadow, light from the soft curtains, grasses, buzzing bees, sack of earth used as comfortable pillows. Carpets of grasses, flowers, plantes and leaves between tubes for watering which splash madly. Kepos in Greek means venter, too.

The use of elemental constructive techniques like stacking, stratification, joint and the use of elementary materials are used in the project in a way to make comprehensible their own shape and they form an example of common architecture.