By Stapati

Casa del Prato by Michele De Lucchi’s AMDL CIRCLE

NOVEMBER 15, 2020

Le Case del Prato (which translates as “Homes in the Pastures”) are two wooden compositions, conceived as an addition to the luxurious Zirmerhof Hotel, Redagno di Sopra, situated in the verdant mountains of South Tyrol. More than architectural forms, they are a product of AMDL Circle’s holistic approach, where the sensibilities associated with each discipline (architecture, interiors and product design) are merged from the very beginning of the creative process. The two buildings have been realised utilising timber salvaged after the Vaia storm of October 2018, which tore down 14 million trees, also damaging the woodland around the Zirmerhof Hotel. The project transformed this felled timber into a timeless installation of art and architecture. Conceived as sculptural volumes, the houses are positioned on sloping pastures, and reposes in an environment of peace and tranquility. Each detail has been designed to be in harmony with the nature, history and sensibilities of Zirmerhof. The salvaged pinewood has been used for beams and to build load-bearing walls, while formwork, cladding and internal walls and floors were realised with salvaged larchwood. Wood is, naturally, the defining element of the design, chosen for its ability to transform gracefully over time, while maintaining a synergy with the rhythms of nature. The curved lines of the roofs reminisce the form of traditional barns. Clad with larchwood shingles, they recapture an ancient construction technique that is still used in certain parts of the Dolomites, which enables the cladding of rounded surfaces. The first is circular and accommodates two suites located on two different levels, while the second is linear and houses four apartments on two levels and a convivial double-height area in the centre. Both architectures are completed by panoramic terraces on the top floor, and by the arches of the continuous portico on the ground level. The squared doors and windows are inspired by the traditional windows of mountain houses. The scenographic interiors are fashioned by Produzione Privata, a company founded by Michele De Lucchi to design and produce experimental objects while supporting local artisans. Referencing the traditional furniture of the farmstead, several interior pieces in the Case del Prato have crafted in walnut and are characterised by certain elements typical of local decor. From the interlacing of the truss ceiling that reflects the rhythm of the wall and floors, to the choice of finishes and furnishings, everything has been conceived to induce comfort and relaxation. The colour palette and the textures of wood and fabric communicate an aura of warmth and homeliness. Windows frame the landscape perfectly, inviting the resident to lose themselves in their idyllic surroundings. Read Michele De Lucchi's beautifully illustrated thoughts on the Vaia storm, its significance and the inception of Le Case del Prato below: I felt personally struck by the fury of storm Vaia as my artwork “Dentro Fuori” in Arte Sella Park was actually split in two by a fallen tree on that night. I remember the shock I felt when I saw that picture of destruction. Then, talking with my friends in Arte Sella, we understood that that tragedy gave us the opportunity to amplify the message of storm Vaia and rework it through art and architecture. With these thoughts in mind, the art installation “Radici al vento” (Exposed Roots) was born, inserted in the arboretum of Padova’s botanical gardens. With the same spirit, I welcomed the idea of building the two Case del Prato using the timber felled by the storm. The wounds produced by storm Vaia are still visible when you look around Zirmerhof and you see the empty patches of woodland. We still find it hard to believe how violent the wind of Vaia was, and how it could fell and carry away so many trees. Yet the message that Vaia left us is quite clear. It is a message that comes from a tale of climate change and that shows us how nature is rebelling against our inconsiderate actions, against those anthropogenic changes that are far from natural. Studies indicate that storm Vaia was generated from the overheating of the Adriatic Sea. The heat vortex rising from the sea released forces on the ground that spread from the valleys to the forests of the Dolomites, with winds coming from directions never before witnessed. One of the possible explanations for the devastating effects of Vaia is that the trees were probably not accustomed to resisting a wind coming from a completely new direction. Had the wind come from the direction it normally does, the trees would have survived the violence of the storm. This thought is quite shocking. The fact that global warming is capable of generating an air circulation that is unknown in the natural course of events.  

Photographs by Max Rommel


Photographs by Praveen Mohandas