Villa Bellosguardo is the result of the profound reconfiguration of a pre-existing residential building.
The intervention area is located on the Bellosguardo hill, one of the most evocative of Florence, which owes its classification as an area of historical and cultural interest, thanks to its many qualities, both architectural and naturalistic.
In addition to the views over the historic center of Florence, Bellosguardo presents significant landscape, historical and monumental aspects. It hosts towers, castles and villas surrounded by ancient parks and gardens, where the most significant figures in history have stayed: Galileo Galilei, Ugo Foscolo, Giuseppe Garibaldi among the Italians.
In this area, the agricultural and architectural landscape summarize together the perfect balance and harmony between city and countryside, which make Florence one of the most popular settlements in the world.
Bellosguardo's project represents an example of how a discreetly contemporary language can be introduced in one of the most delicate and protected Florentine landscape scenarios, achieving total harmony with the historical and naturalistic environment, in full compliance with the local regulations.
The original building, a single-storey villa built in the 1950s, while it was devoid of historical-architectural interest, enjoyed an extraordinary landscape location within the Bellosguardo hill, projected like a balcony towards the historic center of Florence.
Over time, a series of external bodies (verandas and canopies) were added to the initial building in an inorganic and artificial way, while the design of the façade presented random openings of different sizes, without a coherent compositional organization. The interior spaces were segmented and lacking an overall view.
The project goals were therefore: collecting the volumes of the extensions (verandas and canopies) by integrating them organically into the overall volume of the building, organizing a consistent and balanced design of the elevations, cleaning up the fragmented and disorganized interior spaces. The topic of the building's energy efficiency was also introduced with the creation of an external thermal coat, the insulation of the roof and the use of athermic glass for the loggias.
Given the absence of a specific value in the original building language, of a rather vernacular and anonymous tone, the need arose to create a personality to the house, a new soul, honest, simple and contemporary, which would allow it to resonate with the exceptional surrounding landscape.
Many interventions have thus focused on eliminating the signs of a generic architecture, in favor of a more modern and essential language, inspired by the stereometric volumes of Mediterranean Architecture. The very protruding eaves projections, which crushed the building proportion, were thus eliminated, allowing to distinctly appreciate the simplicity of the volumes and their mutual relationship. The pitched roof, which the legislation required to keep, was disguised by raising the perimeter walls beyond the eaves line and bringing the latter into an internal position, in such a way as to re-proportion the elevations and provide the volumes with a sharper upper edge.
The previous main façade, devoid of a real design, was remodeled by alternating, with the distribution of new openings, an orderly sequence of solids and voids that gave the facade a new rhythm, capable of communicating with the geometric rigor of the Renaissance buildings of the city below.
Placed on the entrance facade, a large pergola with a metal profile frame replaces the previous canopy, creating a large outdoor living area, sheltered from sun and rain and overlooking the evocative panorama. Its structural frame is shown in its pure geometric articulation, thanks to the cover in athermic glass sheets.
The old and precarious glazed veranda at the back has been replaced by a new body, once again through the use of a rigorous geometric shape, characterized by large glazed openings that look towards the garden and the backyard. A small vegetable garden has been set up in this area, divided into cubic corten boxes arranged in a quadrangular grid. A tribute to the agricultural nature of the context, revisited in a contemporary key.
The entire perimeter of the building has been equipped with a large polished concrete platform that allows and promotes the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces, offering outdoor living areas, informal seating and a series of corners for outdoor dining surrounded by greenery.
In the interior, the work focused on eliminating the partitions that fragmented the space continuity, in order to obtain more airy, tall and regular geometric shapes. For example, in the large living/dining room, previously divided in two spaces, now characterized by large architectural furniture, which with a single continuous gesture becomes a library, storage unit, and access wall to the home services.
Likewise, the space of the master bed room has been smoothly placed in relation to that of his bathroom, through a large opening in which the bathtub acts as a pivot between the two rooms, also facing the panorama.
On the flat roof part of the building, the accessibility and the size of the terrace has been improved, creating an additional large outdoor lounge, paved with a wooden deck, equipped with an outside bar, and a hot-tub integrated in the flooring design. The terrace is bordered towards the city by a crystal parapet decorated with a graphic motif that "fades" the view outwards, enhancing the perception of numerous monumental emergencies.
A backlighting system of the crystals lights up the parapet pattern at night, creating a fascinating counterpoint to the lights of the city in the distance.
Born in Edinburgh in 1956, André Benaim lives and works in Florence where he graduated in Architecture with a thesis on the restoration of Florence’s Niccolini Theatre.
Studio Benaim is specialized in the restoration and renewal of public and private buildings, projects in the commercial, retail and hospitality sectors, in Italy and abroad.
His projects always show respect for the history and character of the building and its context; through the sober language of contemporaneity, he recreates an atmosphere that is unique yet modern.
His portfolio of private home projects has seen André Benaim work on extensions, new constructions and restorations from London to Istanbul, via Florence and Chianti. The projects include important examples of the transformation of high-level historic residences, set in a heritage landscape, into contemporary buildings; his strong focus is always on environmental sustainability and relationship with the context.
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