Casa Riga in Trentino Alto Adige is a wonderful example of a symbiotic relationship between architecture and nature. The complex lies near the Comano spa, on a sloping piece of land with a section for an orchard and lawn: a delicate landscape. The focus on seamlessly inserting this large structure into the landscape led architects Stefania Saracino and Franco Tagliabue to exploit the slope and build a partially underground house.
This also fitted the client’s desire to have a building that was invisible from above and nothing more than a “slit” in the mountain from below. The design covers two functional parts - the home and the agritourism (rural accommodation) - in a single linked complex in which each section faces a different direction. The house opens onto the west side with glazing overlooking the valley, while the rooms of the agritourism look south, towards the river and the wood.
This is an optimal placement for a building seeking to ensure energy savings using passive energy systems. In addition to carefully studying the orientation of the structure, analysis was done on the choice of building techniques, leading to the underground section being entirely in wood. On the mountainside, the internal sections are lit through a series of patios cut into the lawn. The use of local materials (stone for the terraces, wood, lawn) is the final piece in the harmonious integration of the building into the landscape.
Lignoalp created the living areas entirely in X-lam load-bearing wood panels, which were left visible in the internal areas. This solution not only ensured a very comfortable interior, but also guaranteed - in combination with insulating material like wood fibre - the levels of heat insulation that the envelope must attain for the building to receive CasaClima Gold classification. The roofing system was also given special attention as the top of this recreates the original lawn.
The seamless glazing functions as a structural wooden façade with double or triple glazing. In addition to the passive solar accumulation systems, the building is heated and cooled by a heat pump fed by geothermal probes. The wooden overhang of the eaves provides shade in summer, but allows in sufficient light in winter. The building does not have its own photovoltaic panels, but uses power from a local consortium. The internal temperature is controlled using a ventilation system with pre-heating/pre-cooling of the air and heat recovery from the exhaust air. This is regulated by an automated system.
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