MASK Architects uses 'Exosteel' to create modular prefabricated houses in Italy

The proposed housing community located in the island of Sardinia is titled Mother Nature as it takes inspiration from nature, and artist Costantino Nivola’s sculpture, La Madre.

by STIRworldPublished on : Sep 28, 2021

In the village of Orani on the island of Sardinia in Italy is MASK Architects’  3D printed steel structure of modular houses. A first of its kind, the 3D printed structures are an addition to the Nivola Museum. Though linked to the museum, this project is envisioned as an addition to Orani’s social, exhibition and living areas. Designed to create an iconic identity, the houses are livable art pieces. Integrating architecture, art and technology into this livable museum project, the MASK Architects aims to reference, preserve and protect the heritage of Orani, with respect to artist Costantino Nivola, who was born in the village. It was important to the architects that the proposal speaks to his work, not only aesthetically, but also pays homage to his legacy by integrating modern techniques and technology into the design.

Renders of individual modules | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
Renders of individual modules Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Inspiration

The proposal has two core inspirations. The first is, of course Nivola himself. Inspired by Nivola’s La Madre sculpture, MASK Architects worked with an idea of a maternal presence. This brings us to the second part of the architects' inspiration, which is Mother Nature itself, even naming the project Mother Nature. Orani’s connection to Mother Nature goes as far back as the Neolithic Period of Sardinia. There exist indicators of Neolithic communities praying to Dea Madre throughout history. In an official statement, founding partner's Öznur Pınar Çer and Danilo Petta explained, “The heart of the Earth and all its nature is known as mother. Like a mother, we want to raise this development and embrace it, to give credit to the pivotal point where the woman has influenced the world. We have tried to harmonise the two different concepts of nature and mama in this project for Orani.”

Site Plan | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
Site Plan Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Throughout Nivola’s career, he endeavoured to create art that could bind a community together. It was always his desire for art to be accessible to everyone, with this project, the architecture in many ways will be visually accessible to everyone. Each housing module is designed to open up and creates pockets for social activities and to bring communities together. Combining the two aspects the architects wanted the prefabricated modules to bear a resemblance to Mother Nature. The modules get their forms by blending the mother figure, which is an essential and pivotal role in human societies, and the notion of nurturing. Using contemporary technology, the sculptural structures embrace nature as a mother figure and create a cocoon-like protective exoskeleton.

Planning

Plan of the ground floor and building sections  | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
Plan of the Ground Floor and building sections Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Madre Natura, or Mother Nature, is a sustainable development of modular construction embedded in a natural setting. Planned on the inclined foothills of a mountain abutting the Nivola Museum, the modules are scattered in staggered sections that will provide different levels for each of the modules. In a bold step, the structures do not include stairs, visitors are encouraged to use the natural terrain to access different levels. The modules are expandable, flexible and adaptable in any situation. Sardinia is known to have strong winds so the entire layout and planning is designed in a manner that will permit the wind to pass through. This allows the overall layout to have a sense of openness built into it. The project is envisioned as a self-sustainable hamlet that works in harmony with nature.

Modules

  • Plan of First Floor O1 | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
    Plan of First Floor O1 Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects
  • Plan of First Floor O2 | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
    Plan of First Floor O2 Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects
  • Plan of First Floor O3 | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
    Plan of First Floor O3 Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects
  • Plan of First Floor O4 | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
    Plan of First Floor O4 Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Each of the modules has been designed strategically. In module A, the ground floor - 1.5 meters above the ground - has a living space, contains a working area, a private shower area and storage. The next floor, which is 3.5 meters above the ground, features an open area with a view of the organic and natural surroundings of the development. Module B is the social floor, which is a unique addition to the modules. All these floors will be used as social spaces and can be adapted to the needs of its inhabitants. They can be also used as additional accommodation space in which more bedroom areas can be added. Module C is the panoramic floor, which consists of a viewing station. This particular module can be joined with the other modules to create larger panoramic floors.

Render of a cluster of buildings | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
Render of a cluster of buildings Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Technology

MASK Architects is the first architecture and design studio in the world to use a steel 3D-printed exoskeleton construction system. The studio had nicknamed this new solution and construction technique Exosteel. Each house is composed of a hollow central column, which is inserted into the ground. Various organic branches that support the three floors of the building grow out of this central column. On each floor, a perimeter frame divides and supports the facades made up of panels moulded to follow the organic form of the house. At the centre of each building is an energy tower. The tower is covered with solar panels, while the top of the tower can rotate 360 degrees in time with the wind to generate wind turbine energy.

The main exterior material is going to be an Effix-based composite light grey panel | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
The main exterior material is going to be an Effix-based composite light grey panel Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

The main energy tower that houses all the systems is constructed with a steel skeleton. By connecting bearing steel beams to this skeleton column, MASK Architects will create a completely self-supporting steel carcass for the structure. The main exterior material is going to be an Effix-based composite light grey panel, that is meant to replicate the white-stone finish of the Nivola’s La Madre

Site section | Exosteel Mother Nature Modular Prefabricated Living Museum Houses | MASK Architects | STIRworld
Site section Image: Courtesy of MASK Architects

Project Details

Name: Mother Nature
Location: Sardinia, Italy
Lead Architect: Öznur Pınar Çer
Design Team: Öznur Pınar Çer, Danilo Petta
Rendering and Animation: MASK Architects

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