The LRG house in Giarre on the slopes of Mount Etna creates its identity through a reinterpretation of a traditional Sicilian house with a patio and clear geometric lines combined with distinct, use-based sections. This process uses different materials to highlight certain architectural aspects and the natural slope to create distinct levels. The design of the garden is another key part in this creation of identity, where different parts of the house have intentionally diverse connections between the interior and exterior. The patio is centrally located, both for design rationale and visually, given the presence of a wondrous olive tree. Yet, from this open central section begins the play of intersection, with the patio itself seemingly bordered by contrasting elements. The functional shapes of the house intersect around the patio, with a veranda leading onto the living and dining room, the kitchen and the corridor that provides access to the bedrooms. It is noticeable that the patio is not completely bordered by buildings or even a veranda with pillars, but ends with a hint of running water as a jet flows out of a broad spout in the wall. From here, the water pools in a basin that is the starting point for a small canal that - charmingly lit at night - draws a virtual edge for the patio. It then moves downwards, following the slope of the steps and the retaining wall made of local volcanic stones until it reaches the end of its journey in another basin. The patio might be somewhat secret, but it is the water that adds a real sense of wealth and tradition. Likewise, in the garden, water is a defining, dynamic element that has a profound sensory effect on viewers.
The main bedroom and en-suite bathroom are linked directly to the study above by an internal staircase, forming a sort of tower block clad in smooth white stone. The wall of this section that faces onto the patio has no windows as the glazed portions in this building section open onto the lower garden level. A large, vertical opening in the elevation rising above the garden provides a linking element with the bedroom windows that are set back from the facade. On the opposite side, the design uses contrasts and combinations of volumes and materials to create a composition that both helps to define the villa, while also mediating between the different visually distinct elements and the underlying unity of the house. The volumes of the entrance and part of the elegant, relaxing living area (including a very private loft area) are placed next to each other, like seemingly totally separate blocks in their white and volcanic stone cladding. Inside, though, these spaces are linked both horizontally and vertically. Double-height areas - one for the entrance hall and the other for a living and reading room - add emphasis to the facade, where a horizontal and vertical opening provides a glimpse of the complexity of the indoor spaces. The section clad in volcanic stone has glazing that is slightly set back, opening onto the garden and marking the two-floor living area where people can talk or enjoy private solitude. The use of materials mirrors the different choices in the design aimed at creating a contemporary yet complex house: Cor-ten steel for the entrance gates, flanked by external walls made of volcanic stone; marble and wooden floors; and steel and wood for the bannisters and parapets on the stairs. Such elements continually emphasise the design choices and are somewhere between sheer appearance and the exacting use of shapes and materials.
Location: Giarre, Catania
Gross Floor Area: 360 m2
Architects: SCAU Studio
Contractor: Guglielmino Giosuè
Photography: © Moreno Maggi
SCAU Studio was established in 1980 as Studio Consociato di Architettura ed Urbanistica, following the coming together of Angelo Di Mauro, Angelo Vecchio and Francesco Russo. In 2000, the firm was overhauled as a provider of integrated design services, welcoming on board two new partners: Koncita Santo and Alfio Cavallaro. In March 2002, it adopted ISO 9001 quality certification. SCAU Studio has completed a large number of projects for the public and private sectors, always in a spirit of approaching each design as an entirely new creation. Every project is the product of on-going research that brings together innovation and experimentation so as to constantly redefine the relationship between technology, functionality and aesthetics. Over the years, SCAU Studio has developed a method and an approach to continuously redefine its unique architectural language so it can take on the challenges of today’s globalized culture with professionalism. It has recently evolved yet again as an international player, developing its key areas of focus into new projects in different cultural and landscape settings.
- 1st Place – Competition for the design of the new Santi Cosma e Damiano church in Acireale (Catania) 2008
- Special mention – Ciclope shopping centre, Acireale, Quadranti d’Architettura prize in the Giovan Battista Vaccarini section for a work of architecture, Pedara (Catania) 2010
- 3rd Place – La Zagara hotel, Internazionale Ischia di Architettura prize, 19–24 July2010, Ischia (Naples)
- 1st mention – Competition of Ideas for the redevelopment of the Edil Tomarchio business park, Aci S. Antonio (Catania)
Further information about SCAU Studio and its designs can be found in SCAU Studio – Opere e Progetti (Puglisi, Luigi Prestinenza, ed. 2010. Rome: Edilstampa).