It’s a rare occasion that we get to say “That’s it!” Even more rarely does it occur that upon second and third approach that the accolade and the analysis of the project still holds together. What we’re trying to say is that we’re pretty sure that Anton Garcia-Abril has accomplished the most successful production of a humanimal construction yet seen. Now, there are varying degrees of interface with the animal world. As we are probably most aware, the majority of the exposure goes to the ‘mimetic, and ‘morphic tropes. Then of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum are the nativists… they are proponents of living buildings, growing structures, and the presence of literal biological material in the built world. It’s that middle ground that we find the most interesting. The area where humans design like animals or animals like humans or better yet, where the two collaborate together to make a poly-species conglomeration, unimaginable to either species. And here, we’re happy to present to you is such a thing. A house born not of man or beast but of both! Or more to the point — both and the same.
This project comes to us from Dezeen and we highly recommend visiting their site for more information. But briefly, Garcia-Abril has constructed a small house out of hay and concrete. Through a process that we have never seen before, a large pit was made in the ground, hay bales were placed in side and then poured with concrete. The mass was allowed to cure in the ground and un-earthed weeks later. When exhumed it was found that not all of the hay had been covered by concrete. What next? Well you might as well let nature take care of itself! Garcia-Abril introduced a friendly cow to his truffle and a few months later he had a perfectly habitable (well, with the addition of some glass, and caulking we imagine) abode. Fantastic!
Apart from the shear novelty of such a building, the project has a kind of soft poetics about it that we find absolutely pertinent today. Nothing about the shape of the house is particularly organic yet the patterns of the hay, the flow of the concrete and the nibbles of the cow all show themselves in the work. The mark of man is made most clearly in the sawed edges of the truffle and in the glass and steel and less visibly as the conductor of all of these processes. As a manifestation of many multiple agents and processes we are reminded of a kind of organicism, a bio-ethos that crosses species. We think Donna Harraway, and Latour would be pleased.
We can’t say enough about this manifest partnership between man and animal. In fact, this project just might illustrate some of the conceptual shifts, that is posthumanist ideas, that appear elsewhere on this site, but have yet to make it into the architectural world. We don’t have an award yet for “Most effective human animal partnership in the construction of a building” but if we did, Anton Garcia-Abril, that award would go to you sir. Well done.