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CASA COVIDA, a refuge connected to nature

With this very green prototype, the Californian studio Emerging Objects delivers a new generation habitat, combining 3D printing with ancestral practices.

Imagined during confinement, the Casa Covida is a somewhat spartan refuge that combines new technologies and clay-based construction material. Designed and built by architectural duo Rael San Fratello and printing specialist Emerging Objects in 3D, this experimental project determined by three circular spaces is located in the middle of the San Luis Valley desert in Colorado. The cottage in the end, offers two people a unique immersive experience of relaxation, closer to nature and traditional processes, oscillating between lifestyles of yesterday and today.

© Elliot Ross and Emerging Objects
© Elliot Ross and Emerging Objects

Natural materials and local know-how

Open to the sky, the horizon and the ground, the living spaces are in tune with the powerful nature of the desert, thanks to this typical material that is adobe, a mixture of sand, silt, clay, water and straw. . Each element of Casa Covida is thought out in connection with local crafts in a contemporary spirit. In the center, the hearth is surrounded by earthen benches, called tarima, dressed in colored textiles; custom kitchen utensils, 3D printed in clay, according to the codes of traditional New Mexico pottery, are used to cook beans, corn, peppers, also chosen locally. The bedding is created from a pine platform, sheepskin, blankets and churro wool cushions, all made by a local weaver. The metal bathtub fills with water from the deep aquifer and groundwater of the desert landscape, the heat of which is returned by the ground. River stones complete the ritual of this natural and unusual bath with a guaranteed view of the sky!

Down to the smallest detail, Casa Covida is in a sustainable development approach, following the rigorous process of eco-design and local. The door handles are a special manufacture, in 3D printing and molded aluminum which comes from cans picked up on the side of the road. The only concession to the project, the light and inflatable roof, this time synthetic, looking like flowering cactus, which unfolds on the oculus in case of bad weather or to keep the heat of the fireplace.

© Elliot Ross and Emerging Objects

Clay printing and new technologies

The Casa Covida project was carried out directly on site. Emerging Objects developed the software and 3D printing system, combining a portable three-axis Selective Compliance Articulated (SCARA) robot arm; which makes it possible to build structures larger than the printer itself, with a continuous flow in adobe. In addition, it is transportable, easily by two technicians and can be controlled using a smartphone. Once deposited, the compact material dries and hardens freely in the sun and wind, like an ancestral construction.

Anne Swynghedauw