Rome: St. Horto by OFL Architecture and Federico Giacomarra

Synergy between architecture, nature and social technologies

by eleonora usseglio prinsi
3 Love 2173 Visits

DESIGN _ St Horto is the installation designed by OFL architecture and Federico Giacomarra, that saw the light at Palazzo delle Esposizioni Eur the last October.

The project stems from the idea of creating a perfect synergy between architecture, nature and social technologies Jardimpu (Arduino and Paraimpu).

The name “St. Horto” is a pun, between Italian and English language. The two words “Horto” and “St” give at the same time the idea of a sacred, intimate garden and of something crooked, apparently disordered but full of life, just like a plant. Together they represent the irregular geometry (crooked or oblique) but highly controlled architectural design of the garden.

St. Horto fits perfectly within the project area and at the same time it redefines the boundaries through a game of compressions and expansions creating a dynamic and attractive space. The concept comes to life from the observation of spinning methods: mechanical (woolen mill) and manual (spindle or mistaff).


These two elements have been reinterpreted and incorporated into the project and represented by wooden poles and ropes of white canvas. The triangular tanks containing the real garden are obtained by the repetition of three modules, which in combination create endless compositions.

"In line with the Lanificio’s inner cultural activities, we have chosen to adopt this geometry by the analogy with various forms of art: painting, drawing, music, cinema.
The architecture plays a fundamental role: spaces which are asymmetric but proportionate, uneven but harmonic, create unusual tactile, olfactory and visual perspectives designed to facilitate a complete and suitable experience for children."

The access to the garden is on the west side of the roof, in front of the entrance to the terrace. From here you can immerge yourself in a space characterized by a succession of energetic triangulations, full and empty, which follow one another along a path of particular educational functions. 

The innovative feature of St. Horto is definitely its integration with the 2.0 technology through a customized project.

Inspired by other projects of interactive gardens with sensors and thanks to the direct experience of Alberto Serra, creator of Jardimpu, it was decided to install a technology allowing realtime monitoring of the growing plants in the garden, through the use of hardware tools (Arduino with sensors and webcam) and software. 

In three particular points of the garden, they use steel cables which become veritable harp instruments.

The St. Horto project combines four inseparable factors among them: functionality, aesthetics, production and teaching. The production is essential in the designed layout. Inside the tanks the usable area for cultivation is 115 square meters (flexible for future expansions) and is therefore enough for a real farming production, not only purely educational/disciplinary.

Architecture: Francesco Lipari, Vanessa Todaro (OFL Architecture) and Federico Giacomarra
Consultants: Mitchell Joachim (Terreform One), Nicola Corona (Agronomo), Alberto Serra (Informatic Tecnologies), Vincenzo Core (Musician), Domenico Canzoniero (ndb marketing), Marco Pesoli (Sound Engineer), Felice Allievi (Structural Engineer)

Photo credit: Ugo Salerno AnotherStudio

    Sainthorto 34


    Rome / Italy / 2013