A stay here means immersing yourself in the mountains, woods, and tranquility of the Caiolo Valley
Caiolo is a small town in Italy’s Valtellina valley at the foot of the Orobie Alps, not far from Sondrio. Although surrounded by mountains, it occupies a sunny position on the valley floor, surrounded by farmland. The owners of an old farmhouse on the edge of the town commissioned Alfredo Vanotti’s studio to renovate the building and repurpose it as a farmstay facility.
The original construction techniques and materials used for the building, combined with elements from a pre-existing building, suggested a monolithic volume made of stone, wood, and concrete, punctuated by voids created by glazed surfaces. The positions of the glass reflect the organization of the rooms inside and their intended use. So, in the reception, tasting, and breakfast areas, where the building extends southwards at ground level, an angled glass wall provides light and sweeping views across the valley. Here, the windows cancel out the division between inside and out, projecting the internal spaces out into the landscape.
There are five bedrooms on each of the two upper floors. Each has its own bathroom with beds positioned in front of large windows that either frame the mountain peaks or the surrounding woodlands, drawing the tranquility of the valley into the bedrooms. Access to the bedrooms on the first upstairs floor is from outside and via concrete and wooden stairs and galleries. The bedrooms above those are reached either from outside or by using an internal elevator.
In its choice of materials, the studio sought to achieve a balance between the traditional and modern. The load-bearing walls and main structure are built using local stone, which gives them a sense of materiality and solidity. The new additions and floor slabs are concrete, while dividing walls and cladding are wood, plaster, and painted iron.
Besides stone, the use of wood reflects the traditional architecture of Valtellina. It’s used here, though, filtered through a contemporary lens for the construction of stairs, balconies, and window shutters that recall those found on the old barns dotted throughout the valley.
Inside, the combination of materials is essential and minimalist so as to enhance the views of the landscape. The floors are brushed concrete, the walls are white plaster, the ceilings are timber, while the windows are fully glass with no glazing bars to interrupt the view.
The essential nature of the material choices and lines reflects a contemporary, innovative architectural language. But that same minimalism also evokes ancient times, when simple functionality and the use of local materials also resulted in equally essential spaces.
>>> Read the editorial from THE PLAN 144 dedicated to the relationship between nature and culture.
Location: Caiolo, Sondrio, Italy
Architects: EV+A architects
Build up area: 630 m2
Main Contractor: C.M. VALTELLINA SAS Costruzioni Generali
Photography by Marcello Mariana, courtesy of EV+A architects