Casa Saldarini - Atlas Obscura

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Casa Saldarini

Piombino, Italy

An unusual house built using an iso-elastic membrane. 


Built in 1962 and also known as the Whale House or the Dinosaur House, Casa Saldarini was designed by Vittorio Giorgini, an Italian architect deeply fascinated by the relationship between architecture and nature. Giorgini studied in Florence and from 1969 to 1996 lived and worked in New York City, where he taught at the Pratt Institute.

Casa Saldarini was the first building in the world based on an iso-elastic membrane made of concrete and wire netting. Architects say it anticipated Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, by 25 years.

Like some of the buildings of Austrian architect Hundertwasser, the floor of the Casa Saldarini is also wavy, however, despite the organic curves of the structure the building is quite stable. Due to concern over the unusual design, the test engineer used double the normal weight to check the building’s structural soundness. The Whale passed with flying colors.

Despite being far ahead of his time, Giorgini was largely ignored by the architects of his time.

Know Before You Go

Baratti is 12 km from Piombino and 80 from Livorno, Tuscany (Italy). Nearest train station: Populonia.

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