The outskirts of Schio are rather mundane, with the clearest landmarks the rolling hills some distance off. Diego Peruzzo and Loris Preto set out to explore correlations, creating a recognisable building that is both sustainable and attentive to the surrounds that ultimately define the interior.
The choice of materials seeks a middle ground between tradition and the desire to renew, combining and contrasting reinforced concrete, bricks, wood, glass, metal frames, cork panels for insulation and perimeter pillars. The energy sustainability of the building relies on the depths of the earth and the sun, with geothermal power drawn from underground to heat or cool the structure and a set of photovoltaic panels placed slightly apart on the south-facing terrace. The hilly landscape is echoed in the architecture, building a dialogue with the context.
The diversity of the volumes divides the space between free structures and sharp right angles that not only provide solutions to functional requirements, but also produce both internal views and glimpses of the outside. The bearing structure uses pillars and girders filled in with masonry and slabs to create distinct sections. A north and a south facing volume form the base, interlocking along the central east-west axis. In this space, the metallic staircase with a glazed parapet helps create the directionality that draws one’s gaze from the entrance on the west side towards the garden beyond the eastern façade. The stairs are also a ground-floor barrier separating the open-plan living areas from the more private bedroom zone.
This highly visible and diverse building manages to resemble both a drop falling onto the ground floor and a rising, glistening shell. This duality, echoed in the use of transparency and opacity, has hints of the hills in the distance through the continuous curved forms. These elements make this the dominant and most distinctive architectural element.
The mosaic pattern on the opaque sections creates a stark contrast with the full-length glazed eastern façade that forms a sharp break in the volume and brings luminosity and visual depth. The varied height of the interior recalls a cupola, defining the spaces for the open-plan ground floor and the mezzanine level accessible via a narrow flight of stairs, following the intrados to the top of the structure. Inside, recesses and double-height spaces, with a balcony protected by glazed parapets, offer intersecting vertical views, while the natural light, from both above and the sides, produces intriguing plastic effects. The balcony on the mezzanine level is characterised by the proximity of large, light-coloured wooden beams.
In its quest to be expressive, this house not only alludes to elevated forms of expression, but also intermingles curved lines with radical sharpness. It is very much about creating an urban landmark and capturing attention using architectural forms that one can live in.
Location: Schio, Vicenza
Gross Floor Area: 250 m²
Architects: Diego Peruzzo and Loris Preto
Contractor: Impresa Edile Costruzioni Buzzaccaro
Bricks: Fornace Silma
Entrance Door: Oikos Venezia
Interior Door Frames: Niamé Glass Doors
Exterior Door and Window Frames: Schüco International Italia
Photo by: © Loris Preto
Peruzzo graduated in Architecture in Venice in 1977. In 1989 he was a finalist in the Andrea Palladio Architecture Award, and in 1996 and 2002 he exhibited at the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Since 1999 he has been a member of the A.I.D.A. – the Italian Architecture Agency. In 2008 he won the Area prize.
His works have been featured in Diego Peruzzo Architecture 1996–2006 (Edizioni Industrialzone 2006, various authors), Progetto Eloquente (Marsilio 1981), Diego Peruzzo – Cinque case (Editoriale d’Architettura 1986), Almanacco Casabella – Giovani architetti italiani 98/99 (Electa 1999), 50x50 Nuova architettura italiana, due generazioni a confronto (Motta Ed. 2002).
Preto was born in Schio (Vicenza) and graduated from the L. e V. Pasini Institute in Schio in 1982. In 1987 he began his freelance career. Over 1989–90, he was in charge of technical management with the Commune of San Vito di Leguzzano. From 1993 to 2003 he was a board member of the Board of Surveyors. He also set up a group for young surveyors, which looks after training and placement.
Preto has always been interested in green buildings and the use of natural and environmentally friendly materials, and has attended numerous courses and seminars on the topic.