Riding between the latest fringe of the urban conglomeration and the country side, we imagined a single-family residence with a solid character and tied to the earth, which reinterprets the tradition. For this reason, we imagined a building with a compact body that could conserve heat, with a solid rock base and a white plaster top.
The building is facing south, where we can find the street and a massive condominium, has very few openings: the area above the hob, the bathroom’s window and a fixed window that welcomes the television. On the northern side, instead, the house is engulfed in a garden, while on the east side a double height front porch allows light to create continuity between inside and outside. On the southern side there’s a big atrium, located 3.5 meters above ground level, which allows to create a very bright family room in the basement.
The client’s request was to have a big living area with a strong relation of continuity with the garden, without resorting to continuos glass. That is why we have studied carefully the paths of the house so that they always pointed to the outside. The result is very interesting and it gives the impression to be continuosly in the open. The building consists of three floors. One is the basement with a warehouse and the family room.
The ground floor is divided in two. The space is tied to the daily life of the family revolving around the kitchen and the fireplace, which has a perforated canopy projecting towards the garden and a formal look, where the dining and living room are one and a half stories high in continuity with the high front porch. The first floor is dedicated to the sleeping area and to the laundry room, which are overlooking over a hanging courtyard open to the south. This courtyard filters the warmest light and naturally illuminates the stairs, allowing to the light to reach the basement. Offset by half a floor, above the living room, we located the studio of the whole family, with a wide terrace. The roof is flat and houses a volume walled up on four sides to hide the solar panels, the external air conditioning machines and the solar thermal. The prevailing compositional element of the structure is the staircase, open on all levels.
The staircase, being a connecting element of different spaces, takes on a different linguistic character for each flight and is totally transformed, becoming a significant architectural element. Made of pietra serena, with a forty-five degree cut on the edges and sides, to make the lateral thickness disappear, the staircase has an iron handrail with variable vertical bars. It is made up of several coplanar panels hung, so as to form a central sculptural element, which becomes lighter and lighter as it goes downwards.
Given the offset of the floors and the staircase suspended between them, the simplest choice was to build a traditional concrete structure with brick and cement floors. The structural verification of some suspended parts was complex, because the calculation seemed to lack seismic stiffening elements, which were made with large horizontal beams completely surrounded by the masonry or by the parapets of the terraces. The structure was built in a few weeks and immediately double infilled in poroton with a central insulator of 8 centimeters of rock wool. Subsequently we moved on to the realization of the external plaster to allow the construction of the stone wall, connected to the masonry. To make the walls monolithic, numerous horizontal metal connection elements have been inserted. For the partition walls it was also decided to work with perforated walls and not with plasterboard.
After a long research, we came to a sandstone quarry in the Belluno area, which still works the sandstone surface in the traditional way, very similar to the color of the local stone. Studying the composition of the courses was equally complex and some technicians came specifically to train the workers for the construction of the stone wall facing. The final jasmine-colored grout reproduced exactly the desired effect. The split stone was not only used in the external part of the building but also in the basement’s family room and in the dining room. These two inserts allow for a greater visual connection between the external envelope and the interior.
The second stone used for the flooring of the living area on the ground floor is pietra serena. It was decided to use this material as the warm gray of the stone harmonized well with the color palette that it was intended to propose in domestic spaces, elegantly binding with the rough surface of the sandstone. A silky finish was chosen, which makes the effect of the stone soft in the light, with a surface treatment with nanotechnologies. The grip for the outdoors was ensured by the type of material, and the staircase and the staggered skirting boards, as well as the fireplace in the living area, were also made with the same material. The design of the flooring, being the same inside and out, respects some proportional relationships and creates a simple and linear basis for the development of the house. One of the central elements of the project is the study of the ceiling surfaces that characterize the different heights of the premises, hiding the lighting fixtures of via Bizzuno within dark gorges. The plasterboard hides reflected lights, shutters on the edges of the rooms, adjustable spotlights, linear cuts to hide the linear air conditioning diffusers, completely aligning the elements of the interior architecture. In addition, the plasterboard evens out the skirting boards of the staircase which become coplanar, hides the edges of the Shuco fixtures, and is coplanar with the made-to-measure boiserie of the entrance, which hide the door to the day bathroom and the entrance wardrobe. Also made to measure are the coplanar doors of the closet inside the kitchen, identical to the doors of the tall units. In the building, large custom-made coplanar walls alternate with a few designer furnishings: sofas and kitchen by Poliform, wire chairs by Vitra, table and chairs by Maxalto in the kitchen, Minotti bed, Lago bookcase. The custom-made structures, mainly in dark oak, cover the entire entrance space, walk-in closet, laundry room and dining area, finished with outdoor plaster, as already mentioned.
The lighting project operated by creating an alternation between light and shadow, between punctual or directional lighting and diffused lighting, so as to obtain an extremely elegant technical lighting system, almost completely disappearing. The few visible elements were used in the walls of the staircase and in the corridor on the first floor. White cylinders punctuate the ceilings of the external porches, and the same cylinders, from the inside, contrast against the dark ceilings of the ground floor, around the entrance.