It started as an experiment in sustainable building in Colombia, but quickly grew into something worthy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. In 2012 Architect Octavio Mendoza completed the main portion of a building he calls Casa Terracota. Locals in the nearby town of Villa de Leyva, however, refer to it as Casa de Flinstones because, well, just look at the photographs.
According to travel writer Carol Pucci, the home is 5,400 square feet and is made entirely of local clay Mendoza fired. He now owns what he claims is the largest piece of pottery in the world. Visitors can visit the house and its spectacular view of the mountains for as little as $3.50. The home isn’t complete; on his web site the 64-year-old Mendoza predicts he will be working on the building for the rest of his life.
Mendoza describes the genesis of the project on his web site.
“Since I was a young boy I saw how artisans, architects and craftsmen transformed soil into various construction systems. Some of these were what we know as tapia pisada, adobe, bahareque, or simple soil blocks. Years after, once I had already graduated from my architectural studies at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, I noticed how our cities and their buildings are usually made of millions of cooked bricks; all which constantly trigger consumption habits at very high rates as well as unconscious procedures that harm the planet. Even worse, I became aware of how that material’s shape and properties limits the way constructions are designed built and inhabited.
“Several years of reflecting on this phenomenon made me conclude, then, that there must be other ways of relating with spaces and the materials they are made of. That is how I determined to make a shift in the way I used all the techniques I had learned about; and in such shift I decided to use natural soil as my main material. This way I would create versatile works of art meant for our protection, rest and/or recreation.
“Later on the idea condensed itself into the concept of inhabiting one single giant brick; where everything we need for living (both structure and main objects) can be produced at a low cost rate.”
CFile will be posting soon on Ray Meeker’s similar projects in India.
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