The geometry of elegance. A villa in Augusta
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The geometry of elegance. A villa in Augusta

Ada Mangano

The geometry of elegance. A villa in Augusta
By Francesco Pagliari -
The rational atmosphere reveals the explicit quest for elegance and the poetic side of architecture. These words could describe this detached house in the Sicilian countryside near Augusta, located on a sizeable plot off the road running from the town to the sea. Ada N. Mangano’s creativity is clearly touched by elegance, producing a two-storey house (120 m2 total floor area) with parallelepiped brought to life through intersections and variations in the volumes.
The strong sense of rationalism is key to moving beyond the relatively small spaces, exploiting the very precise layout of the house. The separation between the ground-floor living spaces running along a southeast-northwest axis and the upper floor sleeping areas is evident and functional. The use of different materials, colours and openings characterise the ground floor, foregrounding certain parts. Thick partition walls divide up the living area, shaping the space and creating zones with either a touch of privacy or a clear social function. The resultant articulation does not overly impact on the fluidity of vision, especially as light floods in from both above and the sides through the windows that are, for the most part, located in the living area between the kitchen and the dining room. It does, though, prevent an undefined flow of spaces, offering clear divisions and helping create a progressive interweave of relationships between elements.
Different hues and highlights characterise the interior use of colour. The walls are polarised between white and dark grey, while the resin-coated flooring is light grey, producing a nice dulling effect to emphasise the red stairs. The layout has a cross-cutting intersection, not along an axis but between the entrance and the bottom of the stairs, an effect foregrounded by the colour of the stairs. Yet, this is not to the detriment of exploring other directions in the house and the natural light draws one into the "conversation area" decorated with a fire place. The links to the outside are amplified with French windows framing views of the leafy countryside. Two doors lead onto the ground-floor veranda running off the north-western front that is partially bordered by white and dark grey lateral partitions. The balcony above provides this space with a degree of protection and there is also a terrace, but this is on the other side, above the entrance.
The use of volumes is about opposition, interlacing and interlocking. The consequence is often slight overlaps between components, but this is always done through the controlled use of form and an overall balance in expression. The house is relatively small, focusing on the quality of life in this building through the use of spaces and relationships. The basic parallelepiped structure is broken down and reassembled through the joint sections (dividing walls, terrace, veranda and the dominant dark-grey vertical and horizontal bands that bring visual depth, reduce glare and more), the secret sections (the small balcony for the smaller bedroom, the sloping section of roof that creates a private sunbathing area), the recesses and the narrow and wide openings onto the countryside and the sky. It is the latter elements, amid the rigorous lines of the structure, that provide highlights and variations, bringing a sense of light and poetry.

Francesco Pagliari

Location: Augusta, Siracusa
Client: Private
Completion: 2007
Gross Floor Area: 120 m2
Architects: Ada N. Mangano
Works Management: Fabio La Rocca
Contractor: SD project

Structural: Bruno Zagami

Resin Flooring: Prochima
Interior Finishes: Metroquadro di Corrada & Franco Montoneri
Door and Window Frames: “Ekos” – Emall

Photo by: © Salvatore Gozzo

Ada N. Mangano 
Architect Ada Mangano, PhD, was born in Catania in 1973 and graduated in architecture in 2002 from the Reggio Calabria Faculty of Architecture with Renato Nicolini and Fabio Ghersi. She is adjunct professor of Architectural Design with ‘Laboratorio Progetto 1’ at the University of Catania Faculty of Architecture. Since 2003 she has conducted research at this university and is on the academic staff of the Design I and Design IV laboratories.
Since 2002, she has been designing homes and interior renovations. Her design ‘Casa De Luca’ earned an honourable mention in the Selinunte II award, won the G.B. Vaccarini Prize in 2008 for its contribution to contemporary architecture in Sicily (Quadranti d’Architettura, first work category), was included in a feature on one hundred designs by Italian architects under 40 years of age in issue 33 of Costruire (December 2010), and received a special mention at Rizone, Biennale Giovani Architetti Italiani 2008. Her designs have been featured at a touring exhibition of the work young architects from Catania organized by the Catania Order of Architects, Planners, Landscape Designers and Building Conservationists.

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