The context in which the design of this private villa is developed is unique. The municipality of Collina d'Oro has always been considered a "landscape of art": from Carabietta to Agra, passing through Montagnola to Gentilino, along the scenic roads and paths the area is filled with outstanding monumental, architectural and historical-artistic testimonies. The context in which the project is developed is extraordinarily distinctive: on the one side the forest with its peculiarities, on the other the lake that is far away, but the view of it makes it seem like you could touch it, so much so that it is present in the figurative framework of this side of Collina d'Oro. Anything was possible for this project: the terrain, although steeply sloping, allowed for multiple design choices. Instead, the path taken was the simplest possible, where simple relates to the concept of "less is more" and its modern interpretations; the decision was made not to pursue a path in which technique and scientific research could have offered wondrous possibilities by reducing architectural language to a mere academic exercise. The house is spread over four levels: in the basement a large opening to the public street conceals the large content of spaces and functions; an external staircase then leads from this level to the ground floor garden and the main entrance. Following the guidelines of the space program, a large basement was designed to provide parking for 3 cars, two cellars and a wine cellar; an elevator connects the 4 floors. On the ground floor, a painting studio with a privileged view of the valley, 2 rooms and a bathroom have been designed, and on the second floor two more rooms each with a master bathroom and a large multipurpose space. The spaciousness of the top level, set back from the line of the large portal, defines not only the interior space, but more importantly the terrace and garden facing the lake that allows a sweeping view of the horizon and the stunning panorama that can be enjoyed from this special place. Within this set-back spaciousness, on the second floor, a large, seamless space opens up longitudinally from the upstream garden through the entire space, magnifying the view. In a context so strongly characterized by the presence of natural elements - the lake, the forest, the hill and the view - material choices are just as important as the architectural ones From the beginning, the main façade was designed in stone, a strong and static material that stands in contrast to nature and the surrounding forest: it is made of split Gneis Onsernone laid in a staggered joint with laths of different sizes, the pitch of which was specially designed to align with the window and portal openings. To contrast the materials, the exterior was finished with white plaster. On the horizontal planes, the pathways, terrace and balconies were made of Onsernone stone, but in the large 120x60cm format: this choice provides material unity in contrast to the white color and texture of the stone laths on the facade. Glass is the co-star of the project, becoming a transparent and permeable surface to showcase the precious content of the house without obstructing it. Anthracite-colored aluminum frames define the mirrors and interact with the stone and texture of the surfaces and facades. Each part of the project was first conceived and drawn in form on sketches on paper, then represented three-dimensionally to verify every volumetric aspect, and finally with a great deal of restitution work in BIM graphics the entire project was designed with a 3D executive model.
Michele Zago graduated in architecture from the IUAV in Venice, where he had the opportunity to work with Professors Gregotti, Aymonino, Ferlenga, and Purini. Under the guidance of Prof. Carlo Magnani, he assisted in university teaching and began his work as an architect. Based in Switzerland since 2004, he has worked with Luca Gazzaniga and Joao Nunes on developing projects, and he refined his architectural style by merging the principles of the Venetian school with the archetypes of the Swiss school. He is the founder of the architectural firm Michele Zago Architetti, which focuses on developing architecture for hotels, resorts, villas and residences. Projects with the highest international profile include The View hotel in Paradiso, the Catrina Sky Resort in Disentis, the Swiss Compound in Oman, and the Ticino Sports Academy. Michele Zago is invited to lectures and conferences at the IUAV University of Venice as well as to forums and discussion panels.
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