This Octagonal Prefab in Italy Rotates a Full 360 Degrees to Follow the Sun

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By Lucy Wang
Like a sunflower, this experimental net-zero house follows the sun to generate all the energy it needs.

Avant-garde architecture isn’t typically what comes to mind when one thinks of the Italian countryside, but that’s exactly what architect Roberto Rossi crafted for client Riccardo Vignali. In hopes of integrating his passion for machinery and background in engineering into his dream home, Vignali requested an experimental dwelling that could spin 360 degrees using energy drawn entirely from renewable sources. 

The home draws inspiration from the Villa Girasole, a rotating home built in the 1930s near Verona by architects Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuli.

The home draws inspiration from the Villa Girasole, a rotating home built in the 1930s near Verona by architects Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuli.

Perched atop a hillside near the northern Italian city of Rimini, the home—known as the Rotating House—is an unusual sight to behold. The timber-clad octagonal structure mechanically rotates atop a central pillar over three feet in diameter and nearly 13 feet tall.

The house is accessed via an external staircase built of wood and wrought iron.

The house is accessed via an external staircase built of wood and wrought iron.

Italian construction company ProTek constructed the dwelling's timber envelope by using lightweight prefabricated elements. 

Guided by a desire for low environmental impact, the client and architect chose prefabrication as a way to reduce waste and open the door for modular reproductions of the Rotating House in the future.

Operable glazed openings bring in natural light and ventilation to keep energy demands low.

Operable glazed openings bring in natural light and ventilation to keep energy demands low.

In addition to solar panels, the home features a heat pump, solar thermal system, and climate-controlled interior that allow the unit to reach net-zero energy consumption. To further remove the abode's dependency on the grid, rainwater is harvested and reused for non-potable uses.

The home is insulated with hemp and wood fiber panels.

The home is insulated with hemp and wood fiber panels.

Solar panels are integrated into the metal roof.

Solar panels are integrated into the metal roof.

By rotating the home, the owner can optimize conditions for the rooftop solar panels and continuously take in new views of the landscape.

By rotating the home, the owner can optimize conditions for the rooftop solar panels and continuously take in new views of the landscape.

Views of the countryside can be enjoyed from the bathtub.

Views of the countryside can be enjoyed from the bathtub.

The living space extends to a protected outdoor terrace.

The living space extends to a protected outdoor terrace.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Roberto Rossi

Structural Engineer: Cenerini Giovanni Maria

Prefab timber construction: ProTek