The Valle Verzasca is one of the most famous valleys in Ticino; a bewitchingly beautiful landscape with a rich history. Any new construction here must firstly respond to this context before placating the necessities of the client, because it will be built to outlast people and because it is our gift and responsibility for the future generations.
Swisshouse XXV is situated on the edge of Mergoscia, a small village, perched along the steep valley slope with an incline of over 45 degrees, giving the sensation of flying over the countryside, where the view disappears across the water, over the dam of Valle Verzasca into the surrounding nature and its deep green woods. Immersed in this high verdant landscape, the house hugs the hillside allowing the existing contours to flow through it. This is the last building plot of land at the end of the village before entering the woods. Any further venture from the house up along the valley must be on foot.
The proportions between the volumes and the logic in building over three floors stems from the typical rustic constructions found throughout the valley, allowing its integration into a landscape where old vertical buildings prevail. The slight shift of the volumes on the valley side of the house emphasizes the similarity of the scale of the new volume with the existing built fabric of the valley. The expression and composition of the façade with its deep-set windows and carved recessed balconies takes the proportions of the typical valley houses and reinterprets them. The open lower ground floor offers its inhabitants a large covered outdoor space which, given the steepness of the site and its immediate surrounds, is necessary to enjoy the outdoors during the mild seasons. This is a new construction that is entwined to its context, it respects the vernacular yet is also somewhat unorthodox in its articulated façade and shifted roofline (set perpendicular to the slope of the land).
The partition of the interior spaces also follows the traditional arrangement of old houses of this area, with a light rotation of such elements as the stairs and a central retaining wall and takes full advantage of the height offered by the pitched roof. The balconies off the living spaces allow the inhabitants their devotion to the views while also filtering the spaces from the high summer sun and welcoming the low winter rays.
The selection of materials for the exterior manages to subtly mix histories. The house is insulated externally and plastered in a light grey colour that recalls the granite of the old buildings of the valley. The outer layer of the roof is made of a grey slated bitumen paper, which also resembles the colour nuances of the stone roofs of the old buildings of the valley. Its stone base along the perimeter of the outer walls accentuates the connection to the terrain.
It is also possible to be multiple use: either as a single-family house or divided into two apartments.
Davide Macullo (b. Giornico, CH, 1965) lives and works in Lugano, Switzerland. Studied art, architecture and interior design. For 20 years (1990-2010) he was project architect in the atelier of Mario Botta with responsibility for over 200 international projects worldwide. He opened his own atelier in 2000. The ethos of the studio is one of ‘drawing from context’ and the various contributions promote a dialogue between the specificity of the project and the universality of the contexts. His work has been published and awarded both at home and abroad. The work of the studio includes graphic design, branding consulting and custom designed furniture, now in production and spans to the creation of contemporary art collections for clients. In Rossa Calanca Valley in the Grison Canton, he is founding member of the RossArte foundation that promote the intervention in situ of international artists to influence daily life through contemporary art.