Construction of the Casa Sperimentale

The construction of the Casa Sperimentale was right from the start an organic process. Whereas the concrete superstructure was decided right from the beginning the rest of the process followed a much more open design process – one where the whole family Giuseppe, Uga and Raynaldo would debate openly about a number of different design options.

The building process started in 1968 and only a few images survive and show the building during the nearly 10 year construction period.

The main concrete frame consists of three mainframes with two additional L-shaped side frames hanging of the mainframes.

The horizontal beams hold crossbars that symmetrically support the independent concrete floor panels. Each of them is cast in site and connected with the frame through a cross-shaped metal coupling.

The floor and the ceiling panels are mirrored with the floor panels supported from underneath and the ceiling panels hung off the frame above.

Four floor panels are separated with a 50mm solid glass strip spaced out with metal circular spacers.

Hanging off the main support columns are two independent bathroom spheres. Each of them is cast in two segments into a mould in the ground, then raised in situ and connected with another shell forming a spherical space that is entered through a concrete tunnel off the main floors. This tunnel has a centre pivot circular door.

The floor planes leave openings between them. Some of these are closed with glass sheets while others form an opening tunnel connecting the pool underneath with the sky above.

All the surrounding walls are non-loadbearing. They are formed out of individually cast box elements with cast-in insulation. These elements are in size multiples of a 500mm grid. Some of these elements are 200mm thick where others form internal boxes used as storage, shelves, wardrobes, niches etc.

Each wall is topped with a 20mm frame element containing a horizontal striplight. This is covered with perspex.

There are special elements cast for some of the corners, while other concrete frames are open and contain windows.

All further openings are closed along the perimeter with bespoke metal window frames following mostly the same size logic, starting from 150mm, 500mm, 750mm and 1000mm elements. Some of them are openable as windows.

Underneath the raised treehouse-like structure is a pool. This body of water reflected the building elements above creating a mirror like appearance. Through this reflection, you have been able to see through the openings in the floors and towards the sky.

On site the family experimented with additional structures.

The Sphere, a 5m globe-like structure is conceived as a stand-alone micro house. Like the bathroom elements, the structure was cast into a hollowed-out mould in the sandy ground of the site. A scribe was used to shape the mould and to level the concrete in the casting process.

The idea was to install an additional suspended bathroom and a sleeping capsule within the sphere. Sadly this was never realised. The sphere is entered through a circular door. Each of the two pre-cast elements of the sphere is separated with a 250mm perspex strip.

The gust houses towards the rear of the sire were built in a traditional blockwork method and then rendered. Each of the three cubes is connected with a circular drumlike door at the front and a bathroom unit at the rear. All windows are circular opening with heavy metal shutters.

The whole site is surrounded by a semi-circular concrete fence topped with metal T-sections. The moulds to cast these elements can still be found on the site.

(All Photos are copyright by the Perunini family archive.)

The main supporting structure of the Casa Sperimentale with the three main frames and the two suspended frames supporting the floors and the suspended ceiling. The Bathroom pods have been lifted in place and suspended off the main columns.

The Bathroom shells were cast into a hollowed-out space in the ground. Using plaster the 1:1 mould was created. A circular scribe was used to spread the concrete evenly into the hollow mould.

After extraction from the ground two of the shells were connected at distance with a metal coupling and lifted into place.

This image shows th two bathroom elements lifted in place and hung off the main columns.

Reinforcement cage for one of the floor – and ceiling sections with the attached metal coupling.

This images shows the detail of the X-shaped coupling welded to the reinforcement cage of a ceilnig panel.

Floors and ceilings are structurally indepedent.

The ceilnig elements are hung off a supporting concrete frame.

The bottom half of the Sphere – Palla, extracted from the ground, waiting to be placed next to the main building.

The Palla under construction next to the main building.

July 3, 2020