The understanding of the programmatic and functional aspects in a project is a very important concern in our design process; however we believe that in the practice of making architecture the resolution of these aspects should be taken for granted. Our ambition instead, lays in creating uniqueness and quality in architecture, regardless of the scale or scope of any project: to design spaces that can convey a message of beauty and emotions.
In the project Raddoppi we attempted to do this through the creation of a spatial illusion and by generating an ambiguous dialogue between historical layers and new interventions. The existing structural constraint and the requirement for a new set of functions defined our strategy of creating a layout that “reads and interprets” the structure, orientation and limitations of the existing building.
The renovation and interior alterations of the apartment located in the centre of Rome engages with the architecture of the historical building in which it is located as well as with the city itself and its unique atmosphere. The layers of time and spatial complexity of Rome and its surrounding landscape are a source of inspiration we draw from. Its urban complexity has always guided us in designing interior layouts that could offer a spatial variation and a rhythm of spaces: spatial complexities that can be experienced by walking in the city’s alleys, streets, and squares.
The 90sqm flat has been redefined through spatial illusions, refractions, plays of light and a new arrangement of the interior. The heart of the design is a volume of glass and steel that cuts right through three of the four chambers of the apartment along the east-west axis, accommodating kitchen, study and master bathroom. This volume slips through the historical walls and ceiling, dividing the areas and yet preserving spatial continuity.
The glass surfaces of the volume play with differentiated effects of transparency and opacity blurring the limits of the space. This is accomplished by some mirrored surfaces that interact with the existing fabric by producing images that multiply and blur the surroundings resulting in a variety of spatial illusions and perspectives. Furthermore, it absorbs and reflects the textured background of the house generating ambiguity and playing with the duality between realty and illusion, old and new. “The intervention itself is minimal but the outcome it creates is a typical baroque effect of amazement.” (from Abitare, issue 545)
The new layout of the chambers revolves around the elongated central volume of glass and steel, creating a collection of spaces alternating between the exposed and the more intimate. The volume also allows for new and multiple paths of circulation around and through it, dividing yet suggesting spatial continuity. This volume is also a device that doubles-up (Raddoppi) space, light and matter.
The original brick walls of the historic building are brought back to life by partially exposing the original surface and complementing other parts with grey cement, producing a complexity of materials that have narrative qualities. Likewise the original timber ceilings have also been restored keeping the original qualities intact.
The real protagonist of the narrative is the warm and vibrant light of Rome, along with the material and textural qualities of the historical fabric, accentuated in the project by the reflections on the diverse glass surfaces.
Established in Rome in 2001 by Matteo Monteduro, Emiliano Roia and Andrea Quagliola, MORQ is a small scale architecture office dedicated to professional practice as well as university research and teaching. It is now based in Rome and in Perth (Australia) with the two offices working collaboratively as one team on each project. MORQ’s work ranges from small residential buildings to large scale speculative projects; it is recipient of numerous awards and exhibited at prestigious institutions where MORQ is also a regular contributor to design events and lectures. We are dedicated to the making of architecture: meaningful spaces within simple and thoughtful buildings. In dialogue with existing conditions, whether natural or built, we see constraints as a starting point for design rather than impediments to our creativity. We like spaces that engage with different shades of natural light and are activated by emotive and sensorial qualities of materials.