Not far from the Italian city of Vicenza, a slice of the Po flatlands stretches north, around the Lessini hills towards the Alpine foothills, leaving a landscape patterned by a succession of precise rectangular fields. In the distance, the first undulations mark a change from the great plain that runs across much of northern Italy, adding distant features to an otherwise flat landscape. The small town of Cassola lies to the south of Bassano del Grappa and the famed Monte Grappa, the most striking feature in these parts.
House BN was designed by the Didoné Comacchio Architects practice based in Cassola and it draws a crisp line running parallel to the ground that emphasises the imposing verticality of Monte Grappa in the background as it rises majestically above the vast flatlands. The villa uses a careful balance of horizontal and vertical elements to bring new shapes to the urban sprawl that covers so much of this swathe of the Po Valley.
The thick white slab used for the roof sits on a series of bright white walls - the walls separating inside from outside - and imposing pillar-like structures clad in wood. The linearity of the roof is only broken by the parallelepiped volume of the double-height living room.
The neat, straight lines of the outside are mirrored by the internal arrangement of space. Rationality is very much the order of the day, with the interior divided into three functional blocks - living area, bedrooms and utilities - that are based on axes leading to windows looking out onto the landscape. The main corridor leading into the house divides the living area from the utilities section and aims directly towards Monte Grappa. Views of this famed mountain, site of a major battle during the Great War, was an explicit part of the client's brief, including views from the bedroom windows.
The utilities space is on the western side, with a garage, a storage area and a habitable basement. The other spaces in the house are located on the eastern side of the main corridor, with the large kitchen, living room and fireplace to the south, and the three bedrooms, with bathrooms, to the north.
The furniture and furnishings adopt the same simple, crisp lines of the outside, and reinforce the functionality of spatial organisation. For example, wooden and lacquered cupboards become material walls that divide the internal spaces. Natural light is another key aspect of the design, with the central environments lit through skylights positioned to allow in light that caresses the walls and minimal furnishings. By contrast, the windows are more designed to idyllically frame the landscape of rural Veneto.
Location: Cassola VI, Italia
Architect: Didonè Comacchio Architects
Principal Designers: Paolo Didonè, Devvy Comacchio
Consultant: Gianmarco Miolo
Main Contractor: Meneghetti costruzioni
Photography: © Alberto Sinigaglia, courtesy of Didonè Comacchio
Didonè Comacchio Architects
Didonè Comacchio Architects works in different scales of architectural practice with a provision for material and sensory experimentation, applying a design philosophy whereby the potential of the context is considered the origin of the research process. The incipit of design processing is reading and reinterpretation, in which the result is an artifact, a concept that completes the basic initial condition, making the project staged the reality in which it is inserted. The interventions are declared through the use of a few but clear architectural gestures that become an amplification of the project choices. The firm was founded by Paolo Didonè and Devvy Comacchio, both graduated from the IUAV (Venice, Italy) in 2007. Among the most important projects carried out are the “Montessori” kindergarten in San Felice sul Panaro MO, a project selected for the “Call for the architects under 30” competition and published in Casabella magazine n° 832, the “Dante Alighieri” primary school in Mirandola MO and the temporary school gym of Massa Finalese MO, both created in the context of the 2012 post-earthquake competitions in Emilia Romagna region. In 2019 the studio was the winner of the tender for the design of the first grade secondary school in Zibido San Giacomo (MI) and the new Palazzetto dello Sport in Nembro (BG).