We are going on a deep dive into the architecture work of Umberto Zanetti by looking at two Russian country houses, or dachas, which were constructed using prefabricated frames that were created in Italy, as well as a residential complex in Switzerland that is made up of several modules. The star of all of these projects is the most innovative industrial, high-tech timber.
Dacha Sestroretsk, St Petersburg (2010)
Nestled in the forest of the same name in the northern part of St Petersburg, this private country house was the first time Zanetti used a prefabricated timber frame after his experience with emergency housing used to help those affected by the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009. He used X-Lam technology, which is light and can be transported over long distances, and timber produced and numerically controlled by the Austrian company Binderholz. The frame was produced piece by piece in Italy, dismantled, and then sent to Russia, complete with insulation, integrated systems, windows, doors, and bathrooms. It was then re-assembled in its final location, resulting in 270-square metre dacha.
Dacha Pirogovo, Moscow (2013-2014)
This L-shaped, 290-square-metre country house near Moscow rises up from the surrounding landscape without obstructing the view. Just like the previous dacha, there is the obvious attention to detail that you would expect of anything ‘made in Italy’, despite the fact that this house was prefabricated. Natural iroko wood was used for the exterior while the galvanised finishes in galleries and covered terraces are reminiscent of birch tree bark.
St. Gingolph Residential Complex, Switzerland (2020)
Known as Le Petit Prince, this almost fifteen-thousand-square-metre complex is nestled in an idyllic Swiss valley surrounded by mountains. The main material used was once again prefabricated timber, but this time using a modular system with different units that allow the layout to be varied. This project is still being completed and will feature a nursing home, private residences, a restaurant, and green spaces.