Trees and lawn embrace this relatively large family home centred on a sort of open courtyard bordered by a wooden pathway that links up with the perimeter path around the building. The "courtyard" is both a prelude to the pool and the visual heart of the villa, surrounded by large glazed windows and doors that contrast with the solid walls of the building's outer edges. The structure, drawing on the precepts of historical modernity, is divided into separate and distinguishable but linked volumes. The result is a plan that enhances the home's internal visual relations and the connections between the living areas and the courtyard space.
The use of size, height and function helps distinguish the different zones. The kitchen is housed in a single-storey volume that includes the south-facing glazed area and, through the extension of the metal-clad roof, leads onto the courtyard area. A large hole in this veranda roof section allows a cork tree to rise up quite scenically above the single-storey roof level creating a "natural" reference point for both the roof extension and the taller volumes.
The central volume is reached via a narrow corridor at a right-angle to the kitchen volume and provides space for eating, chatting and, generally, living. This double-height section really emphasises the central living section. The modern fireplace, with a stone slab base and a parallelepiped-shaped hanging chimney clad in Cor-ten steel, physically separates the cosiest section, with sofas, from the dining area where the visual interaction with the exterior is on two fronts because the glazing allows a southerly view, onto the courtyard and pool, and a westerly one, onto a wooded area. This double-height section is marked by the slope of the single pitch roof up to the two-storey section that, characterised by right angles, is home to the bedrooms (upper floor for the family; lower floor for the guests) with a study and "wellbeing" zone. This structure is a parallelepiped with staggered volumes moving from south to north. The staircase parallel to the southern wall takes you from the living room to the first floor, occupying a position where the visual links are maintained with the more functional parts of the house. From one perspective, the emphasis is on the open linearity of the ground floor running from west to east, from the dining area to the study; from another, a similar lack of visual barriers characterises the view from above - on the upper "mezzanine" level that connects with the bedroom zone - and frames the sitting room.
The building is not only sharply characterised by the clear separation of the volumes, but also through the clever use of materials in the exterior sections, that are connected to the interiors through the use of vibrant variations in colour. The paint, the Cor-ten steel sheets (used to clad the kitchen block, the ground floor in the guest area, the sloping roof), and the vertical wooden staves (Twinson) divide the exterior according to coplanar sections and different levels. There is a mix of materials and colours, with the dark hues of the Cor-ten sheets marked by circular openings - light "tubes" to illuminate the interior - and the delicate colours of the wooden staves. Inside, green stone, dark wooden flooring and more Cor-ten sheets in the kitchen are used, combining with the tailor-made Corian furniture and the wooden panelling.
Gross Floor Area: 500 m2
Architects: Carlo Donati Studio
Design Team: Laura Consiglio, Marta Novarini
Structural: Studio Cantoni
Light Designer: Cannata&Partners
Corten Steel Roofing and Façade Cladding: SAVOgi
Cladding on Façade and Exterior Walkways: Röhm Italia
Swimming Pool: Piscine Castiglioni
Sofas: B&B Italia
Doors and Windows: Thema
Photography: © Giorgio Possenti
Carlo Donati Studio
Carlo Donati was born in Zibello (Parma) in 1965. He graduated in architecture from Politecnico di Milano in 1992. His career began with Belgiojoso BBPR and Gregotti Associati International. He then set up Farnese Contract in 1996 and opened his own office in 1999. Today, his practice primarily focuses on the design of exclusive homes, shops, and resorts in Italy and around the world.
In 2008 he won the invitation-only competition for developing the masterplan for Segrate, Milan.
After acting as architectural consultant for fashion brands Gianni Versace in New York (townhouse and flagship store) and Aldo Coppola in Milan, the firm is currently responsible for the artistic direction of the Slowear group, for which it recently designed showrooms and stores in Paris, London, Tokyo, and Seoul.
The practice is currently involved in the construction of a new residential building in central Milan as well as a number of luxury homes and apartments. The firm also oversees the corporate image of ‘Linea Più’, a company involved in the renewable energy market, for which it designed its new retail concept and offices.
The firm’s minimalist approach to design is always influenced by chromatic and graphic ideas inspired by the context. It manages every aspect of projects, from the interiors to furnishings. The firm is also involved in the design of prefabricated timber constructions. A search for new materials and new construction techniques serves as a constant stimulus for the creation of unique projects.
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