On 29th October 2018 an unprecedented storm hit the province of Trento, Italy. Many areas were damaged in the storm, including Arte Sella, a unique contemporary sculpture park, set deep between the two stone peaks of the Sella Valley. For over 30 years, artists had come to this distinctive area to develop pieces of art which let nature and art merge into one continuous form. The storm had destroyed much of this wonderful work, and Arte Sella were in need of help to bring harmony back to its region.
Damaged sculpture at Arte Sella
Architects were tasked with developing a new focal point for Arte Sella, a system of works to be placed on the mountain. The aim was to take back the fascination and beauty of one of the most outstanding artistic experimentation sites in the world. The brief was to transform Arte Sella into a pilgrimage destination for visitors and artists alike.
Studio Tashkeel responded to the brief by developing a concept which focused on the needs of the artists who would stay and work within the unique setting. An artist goes through many experiences that develop them constantly, to the extent that the places and the emotions felt whilst in a location mould their character and as a result their art.
Studio Tashkeel created spaces that let the artists live ‘cocooned’ in nature, just as butterflies do. This cocoon shields and protects against the elements, but most importantly it helps the artists through their metamorphosis journey as an artist within the distinctive environment.
These cocoons are a part of nature – sculpted out of it, yet distinct and unequivocal. They are rooted in the rock face: When the sun shines they absorb the energy & promote a healthy ecosystem on their skin. When it floods, they peacefully help run the deluge off their backs.
The cocoon is a generic module with individualistic functions. Future expansion capabilities are managed by the flexibility in its form & design. This makes replication rapid and straight-forward.
The usable space is centered around the core section and the entry/egress points are on the ends. The basic height requirement for entry, exit and functional use of the spaces aside, the height allowances in its mid-sections have been exaggerated in order to make the user within feel a sense of awe & inspiration.
The cocoons are designed from naturally occurring timber which is heat-pressurised to form the shape of the form.The timber framework is anchored onto the rock by means of steel bolts & concrete as necessary. The triangulated patterns within the framework are either filled with a membrane to weather-seal the structure and filled with earth to allow for growth of plants such as grasses and ferns.
The triangulations which are transparent are filled with ETFE pillows. These pillows absorb and retain heat in the summer months and act as cavity insulation in the winter.
The location chosen to site these cocoons was one where the artist can be in complete isolation, to follow one’s own journey with nature and reflect – a reflection on one’s own nomadic quest to find art from nature.
The cliff-edge creates a dynamic interface – the artist would need to traverse the forest before they can immerse themselves into their own private natural paradise. The ravines that scar the mountain form a precarious place to site these cocoons which serenely seem to defy the forces of nature that has carved them.