He called it “the prototype house for a new way of building”. Here, architect Massimiliano Locatelli, introduces a project that, in an unprecedented time for a traditional housing, takes shape in Piazza Cesare Beccaria in Milan, just five minutes from the Duomo. A house with all its attributes – a living area, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and even a vegetable garden roof – which rests on a paradigm of 5 values: creativity, sustainability, flexibility, accessibility (economic) and speed. “It is an ethical project”, explained Locatelli. “The beauty of the future is created by the transformation of debris into construction material, by the speed and reduction of costs put at the service of sustainability and creativity”. This means construction times are slimmed down to only a week, for a house the size of this prototype. All aimed to improve the state of being, “in an authentically progressive vision of living and therefore of existence”. When we reach him on the phone, the architect is leaving the building site where he has just let in a 650-kilogram tank. “A unique piece of stone, made in Vietnam,” he says. “Since the house is all made from concrete, we wanted to give the visitor a little security with signs of memory, like the elements of the marble bathroom carved by hand”. It will be open for the entire Fuorisalone period, after which it will be moved outside Milan. Consisting of 155 cm modules joined by rubber expansion joints, the construction is also anti-seismic. This allows ease of transportation if the case requires it, but not only just. “It is possible to expand, crush and rebuild: it is above all a very flexible house”.
The CLS Architetti project was developed together with the Dutch startup Cybe, and the building services company Arupe, which has developed a “perfect” cement mix, to coordinate with the timing and methodology of construction: “The first layer must be strong enough to support the second layer but also sufficiently wet to hold the subsequent layer”. Someone passing by may have noticed a futuristic construction site with an orange robot at work and, instead of bricklayers, which perhaps with euphemism we could define highly skilled labour: “There are three engineers – who are also masons, of course, because they break the cement and put it in the bitumen – and can cope with every troubleshooting scenario. If the cement for example has a larger agglomerate that the printer nozzle stops completely … it reminds me a bit of a boat trip sailing always with all its question marks: it breaks on top, there are little unforeseen events that happen and only a good captain manages to solve them”. 10 days after the inauguration, on a Friday evening, the robot, passing over it, cut the cable, a very sophisticated object with 36 internal wires, coming from Boston. It seemed like this would normally take up to 12 days, but the engineers reopening and stripping the wires in three hours of work have pulled resources out of the future. “This is precisely what I find extremely fascinating: mixing technology and manpower bringing together two worlds, the theoretical and the practical”.
And then total creativity: “In terms of shapes? You can do everything. You can even have a man cave! ” The house in Piazza Beccaria has organic forms, rounded, with the walls tapered towards each other reminiscent of medieval buttresses. “Making a straight wall is what we are used to, thinking of making an inclined wall inwards is a great exercise for architecture innovation”. Locatelli points out that this flexibility and freedom will give more creative voice and expression to the commissioned builds: “Today we need to explain to clients” it can not be done: there is a pillar… But when we will no longer have any formal or structural constraints, the architect will have to become something else entirely. Maybe a little bit of a psychologist.” And look with great optimism to the future. Let’s take for example earthquakes. “The houses can be broken down and can be rebuilt and in a week, restored with dignity to desperate people, this is a revolution. But we are not just thinking about emergencies!” he insists. “You can free your thoughts – this is a democratic form of building, and a little ‘for everyone, but there will be those who want to rely on the architect for great visionary projects, to dream for them. Great freedom is innate. ”
In the near future we will have accessible low-cost housing situations, a real change in paradigm compared to what it means to buy a house today: “A jacket that costs $30 does not impact my life”, reflects Locatelli, “I can buy 10 of course, but it does not make a difference, but if a house that costs $30 thousand dollars, yes, it impacts my life.” The requests have already arrived, for the expansion of a museum in Milan, for a villa in Porto Cervo and a shelter in Puglia, where he will be quick to replace the abode with a more capacious structure: “And it is something that I am excited to do as soon as I finish the Salone”. We ask if there were an architect from the past who would have been an early adopted of this technology: “I always say that Le Corbisier was one of the great lovers of technology, he loved fast cars, he loved everything that was innovation. He then rode the wave of reinforced concrete, and I think he would have been very happy to ride the wave of 3D technology. “