The house, clad in local stone and designed to follow the slope of the land, is pervaded by a deep sense of place
Immersed in nature near Sala Comacina, a historic village and port serving Comacina Island (Lake Como’s only island), Villa Molli blends into the local landscape. A deep sense that the home belongs in this place between the lake and woods is not only established by the use of the local moraine stone as cladding, but also by the tension created between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The elements that define the space – that is, the walls, windows, and roofs – create a changing rhythm with the views of the lake, the sky, and Comacina Island.
The residence follows the slope of the land from east to west and north to south. The decision to divide the building into two vertical bodies, both at ground level, has made it possible to have large openings towards the lake to the front and the island to the side. Again reflecting the slope of the site and to keep excavation to a minimum, the central space is divided into three levels that, from highest to lowest, host the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Much of the character of this single large space is created by the sloping ceiling, which, terminating at the lowest point with a glazed wall, offers ever-changing views of the landscape from inside. From the highest level, the kitchen, the opening frames nothing but water. As you descend to the living area, however, the view extends to the sky. The terrace above follows the slope of the ceiling, with a series of stepped levels that further extend the lake views.
Materials and perception are two key words for understanding this project, the two working together to create an atmosphere of living in complete harmony with place. In his book Genius Loci, Christian Norberg-Schulz said, “Man dwells when he can orientate himself and identify himself with an environment, or when he experiences the environment as meaningful.” Creating a meaningful place therefore means being able to perceive the genius loci, to understand its properties and distinctive characteristics. It’s therefore no coincidence that Villa Molli encompasses elements of local architecture, with the local construction traditions merging with technological innovation and the creation of a new language. The stone cladding reflects traditional local buildings. The roof and façade meld together, while the slope of the site creates variations on a theme through the different sections of the façade.
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Architect Lorenzo Guzzini described the architectural and symbolic function of the villa’s outdoor swimming pool as an element that “tames” water by creating a visual connection with the “wild” water of the lake, while it also acts as a parapet, so that there are no boundaries between the interior and the surrounding landscape. The project clearly set out to be at one with the ground while also rising towards the sky and extending out towards the lake. The home expands and contracts between the sleeping and living areas, between the inside and the outside, in an interplay of light and shade from above. Paraphrasing Martin Heidegger from Vorträge und Aufsätze, the home’s floors, walls, and ceilings don’t as much stop the space but are the point at which its presence begins.
Location: Sala Comacina (Como)
Area: 320 m2
Architect: Lorenzo Guzzini Architecture
Structures: Claudio Sosio De Rosa
Main Contractor: Curti
Photography by Giorgio Marafioti, courtesy of Lorenzo Guzzini Architecture