OVERLOOKING LAKE MAGGIORE, A RESIDENCE WITH ARTICULATED VOLUMES USES THE SLOPE OF THE LAND TO CREATE PRIVATE OUTDOOR SPACES
From a distance, this home is almost invisible – all you can see is a stereometric base with regular, squared forms on a hillside. As you draw nearer, however, the house slowly begins to reveal itself in an interplay of overlaps and setbacks that follow the slope of the hill. This steep slope, which faces west and overlooks magnificent views of Lake Maggiore, Mount Mottarone, and the Ossola Valley, was exploited to create articulated spaces and an unusual geometry of volumes.
Reflecting the split-level homes typical of areas with steeply sloping land, the house comprises two overlapping and staggered volumes: a base, partially set back into the hill, that’s more closed and punctuated by its door and window openings, and a lighter volume on top and towards the back. Simply by staggering the two volumes in this way, Studio Ecoarch produced the space to create a belvedere with a swimming pool. And it’s this space that forms the heart of the project, connecting the inside and outside, which is partially covered by a 16 1/2 ft (5m) canopy, and ends with the swimming pool right on the edge of the lower volume.
Inverting the traditional layout of the rooms, with the bedrooms in the lower volume and the living areas in the upper, made it possible to explore the full potential of the composition, with the living room adjoining, and merging with, the belvedere. Motorized sliding windows in the living room almost completely retract, creating continuity between the exterior and interior, which becomes a natural extension of the belvedere. The sunscreens on the cantilevered volume visually mediate this transition, filtering sunlight and modulating it for interior lighting.
Outside, a footpath climbs the hill following the geometry of the house. But it’s difficult to perceive the overall geometry of the volumes from so close, with the house revealing itself one corner and one angle at a time. Located to the rear, the entrance and adjoining patio occupy another excavated section of the hill.
The interiors feature clean, geometric, and minimalist lines. Colors have been used to minimize the presence of the house, ensuring that the views outside are the stars of the show. And the large, floor-to-ceiling windows do offer sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
The interior surfaces are light, uniform, and fine. Large porcelain stoneware slabs, plaster in light tones, windows and balustrades with thin metal profiles and extra-clear glass all contribute to dematerializing the presence of the house. Some of the color details are only found in the fabrics, making them stand out against the neutral background.
A great deal of attention also went into the home’s environmental impact, with the use of state-of-the-art services that provide excellent energy performance. Because of the complex geometry created by the juxtaposition of volumes, the architects carried out an in-depth study of thermal bridges, which were then corrected.
Location: Varese, Italy
Architect: Studio Ecoarch
Main Contractor: Impresa Chinaglia
Photography by Marco Reggi, courtesy of Studio Ecoarch