Festival des Cabanes

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At Villa Medici until October 1st, the event examines the archetypical dwelling through seven micro-constructions that dialogue with their setting

If, going with Marc-Antoine Laugier, we recognise the hut as an essential and irreducible form of dwelling, that which contains and is the forbearer of all other forms, we can more easily understand why, three centuries on, another French intellectual has chosen that very archetype, and that koine, to compare a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture with the complexity of the present.

We are at Villa Medici, just a short distance from Trinità dei Monti, home of one of the most stunning views of the Eternal City and, since 1803, also of the French Academy. It was the director, Sam Stourdzé, who in 2022 decided to host the Festival des Cabanes, an event created to play host, in the stunning gardens of the villa, to micro-constructions that invite a rethinking of the theme of modular and sustainable buildings, and our relationship with nature.

The second edition of the Festival, which opened on 24 May and will end on 1 October, presents installations by seven firms: Archisculpteurs, Atelier Craft, Atelier Poem, Aurel Design Urbain, Nelson Wilmotte Architectes, Offset and Orizzontale.
Usable and open to the public, the huts are made from recycled materials or in line with an eco-responsible approach and offer visitors a new way to experience the gardens of Villa Medici, at the same time examining some of the challenges of contemporary architecture.
Designed by Archisculpteurs, the Batouto hut is an invitation to imagine the tangle of a forest of Norway spruce in which we are hidden, like children, looking out on the world around us. At the centre of this disorder, a series of walkways lead to a panoramic view of Rome and the Villa.

Parasol Tree by Atelieri Craft is the prototype of a mechanical tree - also in Norway spruce - that offers visitors shade and, in the case of heavy summer rain, collects rainwater, gradually distributing it to the surrounding area during periods of drought.
Located at the entrance to the garden, La timidité del cimes by Atelier Poem serves as a threshold. It accompanies visitors on a walk in the shade and recalls the period gardens of Villa Medici through a simple geometry created through the juxtaposition of fifteen identical modules that, over the course of the day, create constantly shifting light and darkness.
Vivere Pontis is a habitable walkway – 29 metres in length – designed by Offset, which connects two plazas in the gardens of Villa Medici, offering a new way to admire nature and the city. The bridge crosses a number of hedges and a path through a series of levels that allow climbs of varying steepness, and via a parasol, a range of seats and panoramic points offer different ways to experience nature.

AWA is an autonomous hut created by Nelson Wilmotte Architectes for an isolated settlement. It is the result of collaboration between architects, artisans and engineers, and draws inspiration from traditional Japanese buildings. Placed at the centre of the orange orchard, it looks out over the gardens of Villa Medici and offers views of Rome’s bell towers. AWA has been designed in a sustainable manner, and encloses a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and many modern comforts in 8 m2.
Tutto Sesto is a curvaceous design by Aurel Design Urbain, inspired by the shape of Renaissance moulding and created to lead visitors to explore the site in an efficient yet uninvasive manner.
In dialogue with the environment, the laser-cut steel and aluminium structure contains the wandering of visitors and invites them to sit in the shade of the pines.
Last but not least, the Rome-based collective Orizzontale presents a project located in two areas of Villa Medici; in the external plaza, a raised reading room welcomes visitors and offers them a new view of the road; in the vestibule, Librairie 7L plays host to a selection of works by architects, artists, photographers and philosophers examining the interaction between architecture and nature. In the autumn, the collection will be enriched by publications dedicated to cinema, reflecting the Villa Medici Film Festival taking place from 13 to 17 September.

Opening image: Batouto hut designed by ArchiSculpteurs (© Daniele Molajoli)

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