Villa Elle Maison - Damilanostudio Architects
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Villa Elle Maison

Damilanostudio Architects

Edited By Francesco Pagliari - 30 January 2017

This villa is near Geneva in Switzerland, enjoying sweeping views of the landscape, city and Lake Geneva. It rests elegantly on a slope, with large sliding doors and windows on the south-western and south-eastern sides. The north-western side is more complex, with the central section glazed, the one side set back and the other marked by the crisp white wall. Integrating the villa into the surrounds is a key feature of the design, achieved on different levels, most immediately with the garden, filled with plants and rocks, but also with the neighbouring buildings, the mountains on the horizon and the other landscape features. 
The linear geometry of the villa spreads across both floors and the semi-basement level, created by the slope, with a double garage. The latter section stretches south-east, forming a sort of plinth for the villa proper to rest on and creating space for a terrace (above the garage) with direct access from the ground-floor living room. 
The volume is L-shaped, unfolding to focus attention on the defining features. The overhanging roofs on the south-eastern elevation define a pattern of repetition, starting from the shelter that frames two sides of the garage area and underscoring the effective, functional geometry of the upper sections. These overhangs project an ideal frame for the volume, while also protecting against the sun. The relationship between living spaces and landscape views is clearly central, as the variously-sized external spaces integrate perfectly with the villa in an ideal extension of the interior. This is especially true for the large terrace and the wide balcony - with glazed parapet - that visibly runs right around the building.  The interaction between the light coloured external walls and the panelled sections adds to the villa's articulated geometry, reinforcing the correlation between solid and glazed walls. The design achieves real integration between the volume and the plot. This is emphasized by placing large "boxes" of Cor-ten steel, which are pots for plants, next to the staircase running along the basement volume. This highlights the co-existence of artificial and natural elements, adding the scents and colours of the plants to the design. 
Inside, the space is divided clearly. On the first floor, the living room, the kitchen and dining area enjoy stunning views, while the guest bedroom is quite isolated, facing north-west, for extra privacy. On the second floor, there is a large study and bedroom (with a walk-in wardrobe), all facing out onto the landscape. The bathrooms are on the northern side. The "hinge" holding the interiors together is the stone staircase, quite a sizeable volume resting against the wall.  The staircase not only provides access to the upper floor, but also merges into the double-height area, encroaching onto the living space that extends horizontally towards the exterior. The result is a subtle, soft vertical dimension that helps locate the multiple perceptions offered by the interior architecture, with crisp elegance. 
Francesco Pagliari