WELL HOUSE

Water represents the main irreplaceable source of life for all ecosystems. Our individual health depends on the availability of water and no riches can be produced without access to water. Today, over 1.4 billion people in the world do not have access to drinking water and if this trend shows no sign of inversion, the number of people without access to drinking water will rise to over 3 billion by 2020. Italy has also recently been affected by a period of water emergency (especially in southern Italy) and by flooding, both of which have caused serious damage, highlighting not only the inadequacy of our drinking water distribution systems, but also the lack of interconnection between the supply points. The world’s water heritage and its renewability are in danger due to phenomena of pollution, desertification and irrational use. In developed countries such as Italy, it has also become economically and environmentally more expensive to access good quality fresh water. In view of these worrying forecasts we propose a type of dwelling where water, and not just water, is the main architectural component. You can drink water; you can eat with water; you can cultivate fruit and vegetables (hydro-culture) in hydroponic greenhouses; you can practise sport (swimming pool); you can do physiotherapy (hydro-massage pools); you can heat the rooms (geothermal pumps); you can light the rooms using electric generators and inverters. The home transforms into a refuge, an intimate space, protected from the outside world, all facing the inner courtyard featuring a large swimming pool: in other words it becomes a well house. The well has always been considered an instrument capable of receiving and recovering water and, at the same time, assuming interesting architectural aspects.
With one level above ground and many levels below the house, it is a pure volume, a parallelepiped with a hollow centre. The square courtyard (contrary to the Well of San Patrizio) has elements protruding over the central void, which feature transparent parallelepipeds containing large aquariums, hydroponic greenhouses and a fish farm. The aquariums are divided according to the life cycles of the fish. The tanks on the lower levels contain the young fry (at the bottom), whereas the tanks on the higher levels hold the edible fish.  The hydroponic greenhouses are divided into greenhouses for vegetables and fruit. The volume above ground holds a day and night area, just as in the lower floor, whereas the upper levels are arranged into utility rooms, such as a tank to collect rain water from nearby foggaras (a rain water recovery system typical of hot countries and in the south of Italy, in which the water is channelled into underground ducts) and all the necessary systems for hydroculture, the greenhouses and the heating. The heating and electrical system is supplied by geothermal power. Once the heat is taken from the depth of the earth in the form of water, geothermal heat pumps can be installed to transform the heat into thermal and electric energy. A service ramp surrounds the house not only to allow access to the utility rooms without interfering in the domestic spaces, but also to act as an air space to insulate the dwelling from the earth.

​Year: 2006
Architect: Anna Rita Emili
Collaborator: Giuseppe Foti

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