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A Bioclimatic House

Carlo Barbieri

A Bioclimatic House
By Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi -

Designed by Carlo Barbieri, this detached residence in Santorso, north-east Italy, is remarkable for at least two features.
First, the brilliant, economically valid solution to the problem posed by the accidental discovery during excavation of the remains of a 7th-8th century BC building. Classed as worthy of documentation but not so important as to forbid new building, the remains were surveyed, photographed and then reburied under the new building’s foundations inside a concrete envelope for future generations. The decision to restrict the building’s foundations to the area already inspected led to the striking first-floor cantilever. This practical solution to a contingent problem has been exploited to great aesthetic effect, creating a pleasing split-level residence. This in turn led to the choice of different cladding materials to mark out the two storeys: appropriately, stone for the ground floor, and wood for the higher level.
Barbieri recalls how architect Maria Sciavarrello, an Italian now living and working in Basel, contributed to the first design phase. “In fact”, he says, “the volumes recall the rationalist approach typical of countries beyond the Alps; the result is somewhat stark but at the same time poetic, a combination that speaks to me”.
The second noteworthy feature is how Barbieri has translated sustainability into architectural reality. His concern with sustainable building dates back to 1987 when, just out of the Venice Architecture Faculty, where his final dissertation was on architectural restoration, Barbieri took on the challenge of developing energy self-sufficient buildings. As a technology expert - he is the son and assistant of a mechanical engineer whose clients include numerous large businesses in Italy’s industrial north east - Barbieri is, however, also aware of the pitfalls.
While sustainable building practices hold much promise, it is not always easy to...

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