The Truffle by Ensamble Studio (Video)

By • Apr 7, 2011 •  Selected Work 

Spanish architectural firm Ensamble Studio has designed “la Trufa” (the Truffle) in collaboration with Ricardo Sanz and Javier Cuesta.

This 270-square-foot one-room dwelling is located in Costa de Morte, in the north of Spain.

to build the Truffle, contractors dug a large hole, compacted the excavated soil around the cavity to form a rough retaining wall, stacked hay bales inside, and poured concrete over them.

Once the concrete set, workers removed the compacted soil formwork to reveal an amorphous, boulder-like mass impregnated with a rough texture and an earthen color.

“But what we had created was not yet architecture. We had fabricated only a stone,” principal García-Abril says.

The task ahead was similar to a childhood craft project in which the balloon used to make a papier-mâché shell has to be popped to reveal a hollow.

García-Abril bored into the concrete to expose hay bales that had been twisted and compressed by the shell as it hardened.

How to remove all the tightly compacted hay? Call in a hungry calf named Paulina, of course.

She treated the construction site as if it were her private manger, consuming more than 1,750 cubic feet of hay before trotting off a year later as a 600-pound heifer.

The Truffle was born.

Check out the video below to learn how the Truffle was built. Read more at Interior Design.

The Truffle by Ensamble Studio:

“The Truffle is a piece of nature built with earth, full of air. A space within a stone that sits on the ground and blends with the territory. It camouflages, by emulating the processes of mineral formation in its structure, and integrates with the natural environment, complying with its laws.

To build it, we made a hole in the ground, piling up on its perimeter the topsoil removed, and we obtained a retaining dike without mechanical consistency. Then, we materialized the air building a volume with hay bales and flooded the space between the earth and the built air to solidify it. The poured mass concrete wrapped the air and protected itself with the ground. Time passed and we removed the earth discovering an amorphous mass.

The earth and the concrete exchanged their properties. The land provided the concrete with its texture and color, its form and its essence, and concrete gave the earth its strength and internal structure. But what we had created was not yet architecture, we had fabricated a stone.


We made a few cuts using quarry machinery to explore its core and discovered its mass inside built with hay, now compressed by the hydrostatic pressure exerted by concrete on the flimsy vegetable structure. To empty the interior, the calf Paulina arrived, and enjoyed the 50m3 of the nicest food, from which she nourished for a year until she left her habitat, already as an adult and weighing 300 kilos. She had eaten the interior volume, and space appeared for the first time, restoring the architectural condition of the truffle after having been a shelter for the animal and the vegetable mass for a long time.”

Photos by: Roland Halbe

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