The project consists of the renovation and interior alterations to an apartment located the top of an early 1900 building near the Gianicolo, in the historical centre of Rome. This prime location offers a panoramic view of Rome almost at 360 degrees. Despite this scenic location and the presence of outdoor spaces, the apartment presented a character of introversion: the house did not have any large opening and given its location new windows were not allowed. This existing constraint defined our strategy of creating a layout that interprets the structure, orientation and limitations of the existing building. The new layout, revolving around the common stairwell of the building, also allows for the more public areas of the house to engage with the existing openings framing the historical views.
Not being able to open new windows, we engaged with the outdoor presence and its atmospheric quality through the use of natural light, the unique soft gold and silver light of Rome, and the modulation of its presence along different textural surfaces: “dosed and filtered” in some areas to create a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere; “direct and intense” to define a hierarchy and to give an accent to those spaces that lead to the outside; “suggested” to give depth of space.
This light is an active design matter: we shaped the interior space of this apartment and selected a palette of materials (natural, irregular and porous) that could give presence to the light; creating an atmosphere serene but vibrant, disconnected from the Rome bustle, but intimately connected with its materiality and tones. A monochrome background to the everyday life with a strong tactile aspect: walking on rough surfaces, touching walls with different texture triggering a sense of awareness of matter and space. The irregularities of the grey terracotta floor in the living area, and the iridescence of the clay rendered walls mixed with marble particles enhance the presence of light and they are in turn enhanced.
Rome and its surrounding landscape it’s a source of inspiration we draw from. Its urban complexity has always guided us in designing interior layouts that could offer a spatial variation and a rhythm of spaces: spatial complexities that can be experienced by walking in the city’s alleys and squares. In the Domus Ru (Romae Umbrarum: Shades of Rome) we attempted to achieve this experience and convey a message of beauty and emotions through an interpretation of phenomenological and spatial aspects of the Eternal City.
Technical Notes on Materials:
All walls and ceilings are rendered with a 20mm cork-base render and finished with a further 10mm layer of “Terra Cruda”, a traditional finish consisting of a mix of clay and fine aggregates that dries with air, without any chemical bonding agent, or any artificial pigment or paint. This finishing material is natural, has no emissions, and is strongly hygroscopic: it has a natural ability of absorbing high levels of humidity in the air.
The floor material is a traditional paver for external use, called “Cotto”, which literally means ‘cooked’, and is an old form of clay brick. This particular “cotto” is however cooked twice, once in the furnace and once in a wood-fire oven, to give it the matte grey-beige colour. As with the walls and ceilings, this material not only offers a special visual and tactile experience, but is also enhances the environmental performance of the in-slab heating and cooling system.
Established in Rome in 2001 by Matteo Monteduro, Emiliano Roia and Andrea Quagliola, MORQ is a small scale architecture office dedicated to professional practice as well as university research and teaching. It is now based in Rome (Italy) and in Perth (Australia) with the two offices working collaboratively as one team on each project.
MORQ’s work ranges from small residential buildings to large scale speculative projects; it is recipient of numerous awards and exhibited at prestigious institutions where MORQ is also a regular contributor to design events and lectures.
We are dedicated to the making of architecture: meaningful spaces within simple and thoughtful buildings.
In dialogue with existing conditions, whether natural or built, we see constraints as a starting point for design rather than impediments to our creativity. We like spaces that engage with different shades of natural light, and are activated by emotive and sensorial qualities of materials.