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Project Description

The Carapace (winery) – Castelbuono Estate, Umbria, Italy

Superseal EPDM Roofing Membrane

The carapace, which according to zoology is the bony shell of turtles and shellfish, was chosen by the world-renowned Italian architect Arnaldo Pomodoro as the ideal and symbolic shape of one of his sculptures: a work of art able to go beyond the dividing lines between sculpture and architecture. The building was commissioned by the Lunelli’s family, owner of the Cantine Ferrari and the Tenuta di Castelbuono, and it was the result of the family’s dream of having a winery which was also a piece of art, able to fulfill both an artistic and a functional role. The Carapace is indeed the only sculpture in the world in which it is possible to live and work. The uniqueness and peculiarity of this building are represented by its volumetric and plastic composition, characterized by a strong emotional and perceptual impact, and by the functional organization of its interiors. Reason and emotion are the two basic aspects that allow for a physical and psychological enjoyment of the sculpture and they are brought together by the use of technology, which supports a high level of structural complexity.

The dialogue with the surroundings is established through the choice of a particular shape for the sculpture as well as by the use of specific materials that integrate with the environment on an ideal and chromatic level. This is why Pomodoro chose to use wood for the building’s framework and copper for the dome.If holding and protecting are the fundamental functions that define any building as such, in this case these functions play a special role. What Pomodoro realized is not just a building, but also a treasure chest, a valuable container, which carries out another fundamental function: the one of preserving.The actions of preserving and protecting imply special care and attention, especially if wine is at stake. Wine is alive, from a symbolic and organic point of view, and is vulnerable to internal changes, such as modifications of its constituting substances. Moreover, it is also influenced by external factors, such as temperature and humidity.

Usually, the ideal places to store wine are located underground, like cellars or caves, because they provide thermal insulation, which in turn ensures a cool and constant temperature throughout the year and a good level of humidity, which is fundamental for the preservation of wine containers, especially if they are made of wood.To this respect, the use of a specific technology with a great level of biocompatibility and the ability to ensure protection against exaggerated levels of humidity, leakage of meteoric water and rising damp, was crucial.

For the basement, the most delicate and central area of the building where the wine’s transformation and preservation take place, it was necessary to use a product with determined technical and functional qualities. This is why Superseal was chosen. Superseal is a 2.10 mm EPDM membrane produced by the Swedish company SealEco. Thanks to this material, it was possible to avoid water leaks and guarantee a watertight seal despite distortion and all the tension forces that can act on the building. The EPDM membrane was placed above the thermal insulation layer; consequently, it was not necessary to anchor the surface to its underlying layer. On top of all this, the waterproofing membrane proved able to bear heavy loads, both in the exercising phase and the embankment of the building. In particular, during the works, Superseal managed to handle static loads and strong stresses due to live loads (which are temporary and dynamic) caused by the presence of machines and people at work.

The heal-sealing of the various rolls, which created a smooth and uniform cover, did not show any signs of failure and allowed the product to maintain its original qualities. Insulation has a double aim: first, to prevent any polluting substance that may result from the manufacturing and cleaning activities carried out in the building from reaching the aquifer; second, to stop toxic substances that are present in rocks and soil and can take the form of solids, liquids and gases, from contaminating the interiors of the building.

The underground section of the Carapace is not only affected by the force of gravity that normally acts vertically on every above-ground building, but it is also subject to forces that have different directions. Moreover, it is surrounded by an irregular and unstable mass, which is pushed and deformed by water. The pressure of this mass is multi-directional – it being vertical or horizontal – and its strength can vary according to the condition of rocks, soil, aquifer and weather. The result is a constant state of dynamism that make advisable to use materials with a high level of elastic equilibrium, especially if they have to be employed for waterproofing activities. The quality of the material needs to be coupled with excellent mechanical features, so that different types of modifications, caused by stressing forces, can be tackled adequately.

 In this unique and peculiar building, the interiors’ suitableness for living, the functionality, the aesthetic quality and the creative and artistic project that turned sculpture into architecture were achieved by means of appropriate materials and technology and thanks to the use of Superseal EPDM membrane, which played a crucial role in ensuring the building’s protection and safety.

Text by: Adriano Ferrara, Architect

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