Materials represent collective design intelligence. In this last step, architects and Italian companies narrate the materials of the future, from tradition to innovation. Sustainability, efficiency and durability, but also beauty, are the paradigms of the selected works, which interpret the major themes of our time: space and health; circular economy and optimization of resources; new habitat models. Today we talk about organics

Alessandro Melis / Heliopolis 21

Borboletta is a transdisciplinary project regarding the integration of architecture, microbiology and biodiversity, aimed at the construction of a new urban paradigm, seen as an ecosystem rather than as artifice. The research team, besides Heliopolis 21, includes Eric Goldemberg/ Monad Studio (also for sound interaction), Juhmur Gokchepinar, who coordinated the combination of architecture and microbiology, Francesco Lipari OFL, Jorge Cereghetti for digital fabrication. There are also the contributions of entomologists, for the raising of crickets, and technicians for the Arduino system. In the version we have presented, which won an award at the Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial (2019), Borboletta called for some integrated material components: a sculptural support structure in wood, made with CNC machinery; three acrylic spheres (two for the biospheres for the raising of crickets, one for a water tank) controlled by an Arduino feedback system (humidity and sound); a prototype of openings in acrylic with a sunscreen system, made with slime molds. The latter component is the main novelty. This is probably the first implementation of a casement that uses the characteristics of expansion and contraction of an organism (slime mold) as a living ‘construction material.’ The system has been created without overlooking aesthetic quality, as in the coloring of the nutrition of the organism.”

Tiziana Monterisi

“Suitable for renovations and new constructions, the two finishing bio-plasters RH420 and RH120, like the entire line of 100% natural products made by the startup Ricehouse, offer a sustainable, innovative approach for the world of architecture and design. First of all, they are light, with good thermal performance, breathable, healthy, non-toxic, formaldehyde-free and 100% Made in Italy, based on careful research and selection of the finest raw materials obtained from waste generated by rice farming. Because they are bio-compostable and bio-degradable, at the end of their lives they produce no environmental impact, as a complete model of the circular economy. Specifically, the bio-plaster RH420 (used for the renovation of the Porro showroom at the Duriniquindici space in Milan, photo courtesy of Porro, above) is a blend derived from rice chaff exclusive from Italian rice farms, clay of the highest quality, natural hydraulic lime and aerial lime in hydrated form. It has stable pigmentation thanks to the use of natural colored earth or marble powders. The result is a 100% natural material with remarkable surface strength and a high capacity for evaporation of humidity present inside walls, to keep the spaces comfortable year round. The bio-plaster RH120 (already used in my home/studio at Andorno Micca, Biella, photo courtesy of Tiziana Monterisi, below) is obtained by mixing the finest binder of the history of architecture, air lime, with rice husks, an agricultural product derived from the pearling of rise after threshing. This material is washable, and particularly suited to interiors.”

Luca Compri / studio LCA architetti

“We have designed this house in Magnago (Milan) as a sustainable work of architecture, a dwelling built with natural materials from renewable sources: wood for the structural part, rice straw and cork for the insulation of the outer enclosure. Everything is recyclable, with zero impact. The choice of the construction method comes from the desire to recoup elements often used for other purposes, or discarded and considered useless, reinterpreting typical materials of the local rural culture. Rice straw is the main waste substance from the chain of production of rise. It has recently been rediscovered and also utilized in building, through reuse of the husks and chaff as binders for the making of screed, plasters and finishes. In this case, on the other hand, we have used bales of straw, which inserted in the wooden framework structure act as perfect insulators, while providing good guarantees of resistance to fire, parasites and insects. The cork has been chosen for its excellent insulating properties, but also for the possibility of leaving it exposed to view, as well as for its ease of workmanship that makes it possible to create free, three-dimensional pantograph motifs. Its production, linked to the specific know-how of Tecnosugheri, draws on controlled cork oak forests, in which the trees regenerate their bark every ten years or so. Another plus of the house is that of the high-performance window frames: they are by SMP Serramenti.”