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The Truffle in Costa da Morte, Spain by Ensamble Studio

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review 2

Ensamble Studio’s small living space was cast over hay bales, then carved out by a munching cow

This case study is part of a longer essay on soil as shuttering – click here to read more

Following on from their early quarry experiments, Antón Garcia Abril and Débora Mesa created this rugged 25m2 living room by the sea in Costa da Morte. The project was self-generated by the studio, challenging the role of the architect and what new situations might result from inventive experimentation. First earthworks involved a hole made in the ground, the mass of soil extracted and placed around the edges of the pit. The excavated volume was filled with hay bales, and flooded with cement. Straw alchemised with poured concrete and an amorphous mass was formed, the fabrication of a stone achieved.

Quarry machinery was used to make cuts, to explore the internal spaces and to reach the captured hay inside. The unlikely process also involved the keeping of a cow for one year, to make use of the food source and to gradually reveal a useful void that might be lived in. The outcome of this process is a surprising architecture. The small room has a rough form that is compliant with its surrounding landscape, it is indeed ‘built with earth, full of air’ as the architects proclaim. Internal smooth concrete finishes imbue the space with both a contrasting sleek practicality and comfort. What is magical is where the material has petrified, the ceiling a suspended stone sea, and an aperture frames the real Atlantic outside, holding the horizon within it.

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review

Source: Roland Halbe

 

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review 1

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review 1

Source: Roland Halbe

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review 3

Cs03 ensamble studio truffle house soil shuttering cow architectural review 3

Cs03 ensamble truffle drawings architectural review

Cs03 ensamble truffle drawings architectural review

Click to download

Lead image: courtesy of Ensamble Studio

This case study is part of a longer essay on soil as shuttering – click here to read more

 

 

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