In Marzabotto, in Italy’s Bologna province, the Ciclostile design team has transformed an old farmhouse into a home that updates local construction traditions without compromising sense of place.
The name of this project, “Ca’ Inua,” combines ca’, a local word typically used to describe the characteristic mountain dwellings of the Bologna area, with inua, a word from Inuit that means “the essence of all things” – a universal concept of uniting without distinctions. This linguistic creation distills into a single name the essence of this project, namely, a solitary building designed to reflect local traditions and exist in harmony with its surrounding landscape.
By taking a painstaking and respectful approach, the architects from Ciclostile interpreted the character of the site to create a timeless design that’s become an integral part of its natural setting. The construction of Ca’ Inua’s centers on the use of natural materials, such as stone and wood, in an attempt to ground the design into its mountain setting and become one with it.
Ca’ Inua is the result of the demolition and reconstruction of an existing farmhouse as the home and workshop of artistic collective Panem et Circenses. It occupies two levels, with the bottom floor partially underground, emphasizing the relationship with the environment.
The stones from the demolition were recovered and reused to build the new exposed stone wall at ground level, the wall forming a connecting element between the new house and the renovated barn. The new section of the home, built using X-LAM panels, overlooks the front elevation on the first floor, blending into its landscape. The cladding is charred wood. An ancient technique widely used in the Apennines, but also around the world, it creates an inclusive and welcoming common language.
Inside, the layout was inspired by interpreting the setting. Utility rooms are all located on the north side of the home and have small windows. By contrast, the living/kitchen area on the ground floor and the bedrooms on the upper floor all have large south-facing windows. The windows at ground level are protected by the projecting first floor, while the bedrooms have blackout blinds. Along with maximizing energy efficiency in cold weather and minimizing exposure to direct sunlight when it’s hot, the windows offer sweeping views across the valley.
The whole house is insulated using a thick wood fiber material. This has made it possible for a single air-conditioning unit to provide all heating and cooling, with almost all the power needed to run it produced by photovoltaic panels. These are installed on the barn roof to minimize visual impact.
Rainwater is collected in tanks and used for watering the garden, while purification is performed by a phytoremediation system that uses two ponds adjacent to the home.
The renovation of the barn mainly involved structural work. While also now housing the home’s various systems and installations, it’s still serving its original purpose as storage for farm machinery.
Architect: Ciclostile Architettura
Location: Marzabotto, Bologna, Italy
Photography by © Fabio Mantovani
courtesy of Ciclostile Architettura
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