Hortus Conclusus

Imagining the future of agricolture


AUTHORS: Gianluca Calligaris, Federico Bullara, Lorenzo Rigonat
PLACE: Romans d’Isonzo, Italy
YEAR: 2017
STATUS: Unbuilt
INSTAGRAM: @bulgarou


This project take place in Italy’s north easternmost region, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and its aim is to imagine an Hortus Conclusus and formulate an idea of how agriculture will be in the future and his relationship with water.

The starting point of the project is the river Isonzo, a 138-kilometre-long river, that cross part of the region. This river’s drainage basin serves for the irrigation of the many corn fields of Friuli’s flat land. To sustain all these fields, it needs plenty of water, and, the little variety of crops, will end up banalizing the landscape. There are two problems: the health conditions of this river, which is currently narrowing its stream bed, and the exploitation of water resources.

The idea of Hortus Conclusus is to settle few detention basin along the river, in strategical point, to store water during the floods, and release it when the river needs it. In these detention basins we can take advantage of the stored water for agricultural uses.

A traditional agriculture uses a lot of water, taking it mostly from rivers. Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, the method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. This system uses much less water compared with traditional farming. Along these basins we settle down a research centre, to study and to help the local farmer to introduce this new system in their farm. The centre includes several laboratory and greenhouses, a market, and a restaurant, but except for maintenance, there will be no car inside this area, all the goods is transported through a drone system.

This research centre is isolated in the countryside, and it helps to differentiate the landscape through the different variety of biomes placed right next to laboratory and greenhouses, forming and enclosed garden, an Hortus Conclusus. This garden is enclosed, not using a fence or a wall, but using the biodiversity of the river itself. We intended this centerer, non as a lonely building where only its employees have access, but like a real “enclosed garden” that can keep private companies, researchers, the local farmers and visitors in the same place, using a different variety of relax spaces and climatic devices.


“Isometric views plays an important role in the Hortus Conclusus drawings.

I choose this technique to let a single drawing the capacity to show as many details as possible, from the structures and the space inside of it till the furniture and the scientific instruments of the research lab.

In the planimetric views I forced the grid to show as possible as it can be the distance and the relations between all the structures (laboratory, greenhouse, relax areas and climatic devices) without losing the possibility to show adequately the variety of the vegetations and the different biomes that surround the structures.

I used a lot of different references from different historical times, starting from painters like Andrea Mantegna and Jacopo Bellini, the drawings of Jean-Jacque Lequeu, mixing them with other more graphical references like the mid-seventies album sleeves designed by Francesco Messina for Franco Battiato, Giusto Pio and Raul Lovisoni. I watched works from Amid Cero 9, Miralles and Junya Ishigami.

For what concern the colours, I preferred to use a pastel palette, to keep the dreamy and idealistic character of the project, emphasizing the crops with a more brilliant colour. For the colours I’ve been influenced by a mixture of Aldo Rossi and Jean Jacques Lequeu.”




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