People often talk about the link between architecture and music, about how both are engaging, sensorial experiences. As John Cage said, “A composition is like a house you can walk around in.” And architecture and music do both surround the body in their space. It’s often not easy, though, to give form to sound, to create a space that’s harmonious, inviting, and at the same time functional for everyday life.
The Margine architecture studio has successfully transformed a dark, rambling apartment in an elegant 1930s building into a bright, functional house and home studio, dubbed the Casa del Musicista (Musician’s house).
We’re in Rome’s historic Appio Latino district, near the Aurelian Walls and not far from the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. The owner of the property, a jazz musician, wanted an open, comfortable home with a living area that’s a cross between a concert hall and a loungeroom.
The architects revolutionized the apartment’s interior, improving the permeability and versatility of its rooms while moving beyond all classic stereotypes. The labyrinthine, narrow corridor, a feature of the original layout, was converted into a comfortable living space by opening the back wall, creating a visual connection between the front door and the main living room/studio space, with its vertical oak paneling.
With its unusual pentagonal shape, designed to host jam sessions, the main room’s minimalism is enhanced by wood paneling. Resembling the body of some mysterious musical instrument, the paneling defines pathways and hides secondary and service spaces, such as the coat cupboard, the bathroom access, the passageway to the kitchen, and a semicircular storage unit that organically redesigns the main junction of the house. At the same time, the slats refine the acoustics of the space and improve the diffusion of natural light.
In the living room, this oak backbone curves to create a symmetrical connection between the enfilade of the entrance and the kitchen. The solid slat structure of this exoskeleton improves the acoustics, acting as a kind of passive musical instrument that transfers sounds into space – studio founders, Giulio Ciccarese and Valentina Pontieri.
A handful of formal, but well-designed, elements create pure spaces with clean lines. Warmth is added by oak flooring laid in an Italian herringbone pattern, while the home is embellished with Carrara marble floors, window sills, and bathrooms. Sophisticated furnishings, which embrace the typical style of the ’60s and were mainly picked up at antiques markets, are mixed with more elegant pieces, such as the Omaggio a Morandi décor collection by Salvatori, the 3T chair by Mangiarotti, Venini’s vintage Triedri chandeliers, and the lamps Pepe Fornas designed for Aromas del Campo.
Margine has composed its own architectural melody, giving life to an eclectic and extremely versatile house, where elegance is created through intelligent combinations of materials, textures, and furnishings that are both simple and refined.
Location: Appio Latino, Roma
Completion: october 2021
Living space: 130 mq
Photography by Lorenzo Zandri, courtesy of Margine