Earth-Ship House / Luigi Rosselli Architects
Text description provided by the architects. Architecturally, earthships are part of the discipline of adaptive reuse. They embrace a style of architecture developed in the late 20th century which aims to use both natural and upcycled materials to create passive, sustainable and often off-grid homes. Here, with Luigi Rosselli Architects’ Earth-Ship, the concept of adaptive reuse and connection to the environment is extended with the revitalization of an existing home whose original design was akin to a drilling rig, floating above and completely disconnected from its rugged and steep surroundings.
Luigi Rosselli has never been a big fan of ‘stilt houses’, built with the intention of admiring the view from above, while refusing contact and symbiosis with the natural habitat the house occupies. As such, the aim of Earthship was to bring the existing two floors of the house down to the ground by adding two more floors below them to create a direct connection to the garden.
Visitors to the Earth-Ship approach from above, negotiating a steep driveway to reach a level, landscaped courtyard; a deliberate resting place in contrast to the steep hill the home occupies. From there the formation of the rammed earth walls, constructed in a warm and welcoming color reminiscent of the outer walls of the famous Malaparte House villa – a magnificent example of a grounded structure set amidst dramatic limestone cliffs on the island of Capri – guide guests to the house’s entrance.
Inside, the visitor encounters a linear staircase that cascades down to the different levels of the house. Above the stairs is a deep cavity covered by a large skylight that allows natural light to flood down through each floor. The descent is easy and comfortable and leads first to the main living/dining-kitchen area, then on to the lower floors which house a guest bedroom, a sunroom and a gym.
Each floor has a generous balcony; a series of nautical-inspired patio decks, their ship-like appearance softened by tall trees and vegetation. This nautical appearance is not as pronounced as the Cottage Point house, Luigi Rosselli Architects’ first major project, designed and built in the late 1980s, which was described as Noah’s Ark moored on the slopes of Mount Ararat. As the name suggests, the Earth-Ship is more down-to-earth than its predecessor’s nautical inspiration.
In its realization, Earth-Ship successfully combines the tenacity of the project architect, Nicola Ghirardi, the interior design of Romaine Alwill and the excellence of landscaping by Will Dangar to create a home of warmth and comfort for those who live in it.
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