Icelandic Turf Houses

Íslenski bærinn Turf Museum

Our research residents Brenda Freitas and Katya Bryskina together with curator Sofia Pia visited Íslenski bærinn Turf Museum and Árbær Open Air Museum in Iceland to see traditional vernacular techniques. 

Starting from the first settlement up to the 20th century, most of the people in Iceland lived in grass-topped farmhouses. Turf houses are a result of difficult climate conditions in a combination of locally available materials. They were offering high-quality insulation and a fairly stable temperature throughout the year compared to buildings made of timber or stone alone. At the end of their lifespan, those buildings can be decomposed.

During a visit to The Icelandic Turf House Institute (Íslenski bærinn), Hannes Lárusson gave an amazing tour, shared the way he grew up and how people were living in addition to his knowledge about building and preservation techniques. To maintain a vernacular house like this, it has to be partly rebuilt every 30-40 years. 

Currently, almost all materials in Iceland are imported, and these vernacular techniques show the potential of using local resources and living in a more harmonic way with nature.

IAAС – Earth in the Venice Laguna: from ground to printed architecture


A 9 day workshop that aims to explore the earth of the Laguna of Venice as a resource to print our buildings. Even if little in use in today’s modern construction, earth has always been used extensively as a building material throughout the world. 3D printing and its new exciting possibilities in terms of design and construction can bring a new way to work with this beautiful material. The workshop is split into three phases. The first one was focused on exploring the geographic condition of the laguna in terms of the different earth qualities that it contains. 

On the first day of the workshop, we had presentations from PhD students from the Department of Geosciences, the University of Padova about their research on salt marshes sediments, hydrodynamics and morphology of the lagoon today.  

On the second day, we went to salt marshes to collect the samples.

4th, 5th, 6th of October – directed by Edouard Cabay together with V-A-C research residents. 

Workshop: Frantoio Sociale by GISTO and Hund Studio

May 24-29 2021

FRANTOIO SOCIALE is a workshop that proposes a model of transformation. It takes inspiration from the agricultural and social world demonstrating how demolition can be a collective activity and an opportunity for growth. It uses a Crunchy Machine to destroy and transform different waste materials. 

Organized by Gisto and Hund Studio the workshop started at V-A-C Zattere on May 24. The residents conducted initially a series of surveys to search and collect several materials that could be found in the Venice area such as Murano glass, marbles, stones, clay, coal, bricks and shells. In the context of the workshop FRANTOIO SOCIALE, Hund Studio has developed an app to map the flow of materials collected in Venice by residents. The digital tool allowed them to photograph, record the color and geolocalize the samples. The materials are collected in an archive designed as a chromatic atlas of the workshop on the Venetian territory.

After the collection of materials, the residents and GISTO and Hund Studio team worked on their demolition and archiving using the Crunchy Machine. The results of the workshop is now exhibited in the Non-Extractive Architecture exhibition.

Photos: Aljoša Marković for GISTO

Lecture: Indy Johar, “Self Sovereign Architecture: Why architecture needs to own itself”

Self Sovereign Architecture; why architecture needs to own itself. An exploration into the future of architecture as a generative organism outside siloed human servitude.

Indy is a founding Director of 00 and Dark Matter Labs. An architect by training, Indy is a Senior Innovation Associate with the Young Foundation and a visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield. He co-founded Impact Hub Birmingham and Open Systems Lab, was a member of the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission. He is a thought leader in system change, the future of urban infrastructure finance, outcome-based investment and the future of governance.

For more information, check out:

Lecture: Holly Jean Buck, “Architecture and design in the transition away from hydrocarbons”

What if the people seized the means of climate production? Holly Jean Buck charts a possible course to a liveable future. Climate restoration will require not just innovative technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere, but social and economic transformation.

Holly Jean Buck is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Environment & Sustainability at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. She recently wrote a book about best and worst-case scenarios for deliberately intervening in the climate — and why we should re-imagine carbon removal technologies. It’s called After Geoengineering.

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Lecture: Studio GISTO / hund studio, “Frantoio Sociale”

We must rethink our development models and at the same time imagine new transition systems. The goal of this project is to demonstrate how demolition can be accessible to everyone, making it a social and collaborative practice, an opportunity for exchange and collective growth.

GISTO is a studio/workshop based between Milano and Treviso (Italy), operating at the intersection of architecture, design and craftsmanship. hund is a graphic and digital design team, working in the wider field of design research and identity shaping through experimentation and dialogue between physical and digital devices.

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Lecture: Mitchell Joachim, “Design Against Extinction”

In this lecture, Mitchell Joachim makes an argument for the role that design and architecture can play in preventing widespread extinction and ecological collapse. Through the innovative use of bio-technology, additive manufacturing, and other emerging technologies, Joachim, through his practice Terreform ONE, imagines futures in which cities become hotbeds for biodiversity.

Mitchell Joachim is an architect and urban designer based in New York City. In addition to his role as Associate Professor of Practice at NYU, Joachim is a co-founder of Terraform ONE, a non-profit group that promotes socio-ecological design in cities.

For more information, check out:

Lecture: Dan Hill, “The Infrastructure of Everyday Life”

Dan Hill is Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government’s innovation agency. A designer and urbanist, Dan’s previous design leadership roles include Arup, Future Cities Catapult, Fabrica, SITRA and the BBC. He’s lived and worked in UK, Australia, Finland, Italy and Sweden. Dan is Visiting Professor at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and at Design Academy Eindhoven, Adjunct Professor at RMIT University, Design Advocate for the Mayor of London, and a Trustee of Participatory City Foundation.

In this lecture, by demonstrating some of his strategic design work at Vinnova, the Swedish government’s innovation agency, as well as elsewhere, Dan will describe what it might mean to reorient around social progress, climate resilience and public health, rather than unequal economic growth, poor health, social injustices and environmental degradation. The concept of ‘the Slowdown’ will be discussed, describing emerging thinking and practice about places, cultures and economies beyond the constant growth assumptions of the Great Acceleration of the last century. This suggests something of a battle for the infrastructures of everyday life, a genuine engagement with the technologies around us, and new ways of thinking about public and civic sensibilities and structures, participation and practices. Unpacking the concept of ‘dark matter’ in this context, and drawing from multiple projects, Dan will show how traditional lenses of design — from architecture to interaction design — might be trained on these big picture challenges.

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“Environmentalism is replacing formalism in architecture says Joseph Grima” published in Dezeen

Non-extractive architecture curator Joseph Grima

Following the live talk that Joseph had with Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs in April, Dezeen published a story about the project and the driving forces behind the Non-Extractive Architecture project. Article can be found here.

Lecture: Lukas Wegwerth, “Forest to Furniture”

Lukas Wegwerth is an artist and designer based in Berlin. Lukas is the developer of THREE+ONE: a system which applies modular and structuralist design principles to 4.0 production methods in order to build furniture and architectural-scale structures for social spaces. With a minimal joint, a scalable, plug-in connector, THREE+ONE holds convertibility and a straightforward construction approach as its core values. It provides a platform for collaborative building.

In this lecture, Lukas gives an overview of his practice, the THREE+ONE system, and his recent forays into the sustainable sourcing and processing of wood for use in his projects.

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