by Meghna MehtaSep 23, 2020
Picture this – You wake up to the pink hued predawn sky, the faintest trace of the moon still flickering overhead. You climb out of the bed, close the hatch and slide open the walls of your house. You roll out your yoga mat and worship the first rays of the morning sun; pour in a cup of tea and climb onto the roof, breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by leafy trees. You decide to go hunting for fruits, so you lock your house and step out. Upon return you take a quick shower, and prepare to take a nap. You wake up to the sound of sparrows chattering in the evening. As the daylight fades into the night, you open the roof panels and gaze at the stars now popping back in the sky, a friendly breeze and the occasional hoots of owls keeping you company.
Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo of IB studio has been spinning this dream into reality since last year, with her award-winning concept Casa Ojalá. The tiny portable house resembles a wooden teacup with its saucer on top, and covers a minimal footprint of 27 sqm. It promises more than 1,000 interior configurations through a manual mechanical system of cranks, pulleys and ropes, which can control the movable walls and floors of the dwelling. The great outdoors is a fundamental part of the bespoke off-grid house, making it suitable for diverse locations and a diverse audience; star gazers, lovers of the sea, artists, travelers and researchers alike.
The word Ojalá (o-ha- lá) has Spanish roots that translates to ‘hopefully’, and summarises the design’s concept of infinite possibilities – a house of hope. Bonzanigo presented the 1:1 model of Casa Ojalá during Milan Design Week 2019, and has since won numerous awards and hearts – “Beatrice Bonzanigo with partner Ryan Nesbitt founded Casa Ojalá srl, based in Milan, Italy, after winning the A’ Design Gold Award 2019, to develop the model into full-scale production,” mentioned the official statement. The first prototype for the patented design is now underway, and preorders are available on the official website, with first deliveries in Italy expected by the end of this year.
Casa Ojalá is an adaptable, micro residential design that offers more than 1,000 interior arrangements working in sync, without altering the original structure and shape. The prefabricated dwelling is designed to be self-standing, without depending on foundations. The main platform spans 6.20m diameter (i.e. 27sqm living area) and the roof platform is 8m diameter, with a height of 6m. IB Studio informs that it is designed to house upto three adults, and it seeks to provide them with an exclusive experience, immersed in their surroundings and practising a more sustainable lifestyle. Bonzanigo and Nesbitt say that “Casa Ojalá is most suitable for temperate climates and a bio-ethanol stove is included to combat seasonal chill. However, we are working on additional features to adapt a model for colder climates”.
The house was initially conceptualised as a vacation home that could travel to different locations. “I want to be surrounded by traditional, perfumed textiles while I gaze at the stars next to a fireplace; sometimes I want to share all this with one or two friends; sometimes I need a wardrobe even if I am in the middle of a desert; and at the same time, I would like the comfort and safety that a home provides. So, I thought about how to truly inhabit nature without infringing it; renouncing the rest of the world, but be provided with the pampering one may find in a hotel? I started thinking about a very flexible little house that could travel to landscapes and provide the comfort of home. Then the idea of a small space with literally infinite possibilities came about,” shares Bonzanigo.
The residence is equipped with two bedrooms (one double and one single bed), a bathroom, kitchenette, rooftop terrace and a living area, all of which can be constantly transformed into one another – the bedroom can become a living room, which in turn becomes an extension of the bathroom, or the house converts into an outdoor platform, and so on. Bonzanigo explains that “the flexibility of the space is made possible by a manual mechanical system composed of pulleys and cranks that controls sliding walls (made from fabric and wood), movable floor and ceiling panels. Built-in central furniture divided in seven slices provides essential functions such as wardrobe, bedside tables, bookshelf, sink and can be pulled out for use or hidden under the floor for storage”.
Casa Ojalá also includes a rainwater collection system and can be fitted with photovoltaic panels and systems to treat clean, gray or black water, for truly ‘off-grid’ living. “On grid means that it can be attached to already existing systems on your property (water, electricity, septic). Off grid means that it has self-sufficient systems to function everywhere without external provisions. It just needs a little maintenance depending on how many people stay there and for how long,” describes Bonzanigo.
Most of the fixtures, furnishings and surfaces used are environmentally sensitive, while all materials employed, such as metal, wood and fabric, are customisable for each user, to “recall local traditions and motifs,” making Casa Ojalá unique to its owner and location. “You can pick the wood essences for the walls and for the platforms, all fabrics for the walls and the terrace rail, and you can choose the colour of all metals (beams, fireplace, base). Our design team will work with you to make Casa Ojalá your own, and to create even more bespoke solutions if desired,” clarifies Bonzanigo.
Engineering began in earnest in the summer of 2019, to execute the design, by a team of structural and mechanical engineers based in Brescia, Italy, along with the Casa Ojalá team. A general contractor is currently working on turning the drawings into steel and wood components, while the Casa Ojalá team has been travelling to find the best suppliers for mechanical systems, bedding, furniture, fabric, bathroom fixtures and lighting, showing unrivaled dedication to detail and quality of design.
We look forward to see in action, the minimal, adaptable, circular house that rethinks architecture and lifestyle, with a focus on flexibility and sustainability. Casa Ojalá brings another realisable, tangible dimension to the tiny house, prefabricated, off grid living concept.
Read more about Casa Ojalá here.