artistic plaster of earth and straw at the permanent building site workshop in Todi

By isabella • Terra Cruda • 9 Sep 2012



In collaboration with Eliana Baglioni (architect) and Sanni Mezzasoma from Panta Rei association.

terra e donne

It is on days like these, when common intentions give life to specific courses, that opportunities for new meetings arise. While the work on the building site progresses, reflections are raised and elaborated. One of the points discussed during these days was the need of finding a common fertile breeding ground for architects and professionals, but also for other individuals, even those who were somehow involved in activities not strictly related to the project in the building site.

The building site workshop aimed at creating an oil mill for the Agricultural Institute of Todi, not far from Perugia and, in this context, it opens itself to the social fabric: the people hosted by the Todi Caritas, in some cases political refugees, were actively engaged by working the farmland which belongs to the Agricultural Institute as well as by working in the building site.

The structure of the building was already existing: a framework of beams and pillars made of reinforced concrete which had to be padded with straw bales and then plastered with earth. The introduction to the course focused on analysing the earth, therefore on a direct contact with the material. The first steps of this course were: mixing the earth collected locally from various places, experimenting with different mixtures for plastering, and laying on various rests. The use of natural materials and simple ancient techniques, integrated with contemporary knowledge, will bring an evolution in the art of building. New conversation topics, discussions and exchange of information will arise. The reflections focus on what we do: even though we use tools, some technical passages, which are certainly indispensable, are “voluntarily” left out. In this occasion, we took the liberty of leaving them out in order to enhance the expressiveness of each individual. In other words, we gave a wider range of opportunities to each individual by letting them experiment with different testing techniques and by strengthening the complicity between the “ones who think” and the “ones who do”. Often a thorough research in the field arises unexpectedly, which develops into the ability of finding effective solutions by using only a few tools. Conflicting opinions can arise from this choice, but I think that everyone can deal with them, therefore this approach does not mean to leave out any options.

Implementation of a formative process will be achieved by using different techniques together with intuition, in order to come to concreteness. Structuring specialised identities in a mechanical way hides the risk of flattening expressiveness and the ability to be autonomous. Using techniques and tools, respecting free expression with considering roles and responsibilities of each individual, developing a critical mind which feeds a constructive discussion. These goals are taken for granted, however I would like to highlight them and consider them as the foundation of a “language”, which helps individuals to outline in which field they want to best express their potential.