Mazzarino || Italy
This residence has a predominantly summery feel to it, thanks to a design that has transformed an ordinary multi-story building built in the second-half of the 20th century - a type of building only ascribed modest value - into a construction packed with interesting features. The primary key design decision was to revolutionize the volumetry: the home sits on its plot of land, the countryside an alternation between vegetation and cultivated land around the building, divided into two orthogonal cores that are separate from one another. The project’s overarching value was to come up with a fundamentally delicate intervention, considering the height of the previous building to be incongruous.
The design conjures up a blend of vernacular references (a twin-gabled roof with a bell-shaped section) and an architectural approach of subdued contemporaneity, imbuing the new home with principles of habitability that include a relationship with external spaces and the protected space of a loggia in which linear geometrical connotations prevail. The home has been created by shifting its volume into two separate orthogonal bodies. Owing to regulations, one portion remained anchored to the previous building’s footprint, albeit as a rebuilt aggregate of two volumes with highly specific delimitations. The key element behind the project is the idea that the unity of the home should not be negated; on the contrary, it is highlighted through an underlying consistency in the use of materials, including wall surface treatments.
The walls are partially clad in slabs of elegant, mottled stone from the upper layers of the quarry at Custonaci (TP); other portions of the wall are simply plastered, enhanced by an effective stonework frame, allowing different dimensions to enter into relationship with the plastered surface areas. In order to enhance the home’s unity it was necessary to add another strong element to the design: the two orthogonal buildings had a need to communicate with one another if they were to express their complementarity. The northern unit, looking out over a significant slope, is separated by a narrow interspace walkway that runs between the plastered solid wall and the dry stone earth containment wall.
This unit, which hosts a bedroom and a large living room, lends significant presence to the home, with its open structural weave of steel beams and gluelam wood pillars, featuring an intrados of wooden strips. The other volume in the residence is divided into a large kitchen space, a master bedroom and a portico that offers a protected, geometrically-rigorous space. The unit features stone slab flooring. A mediation area with the open space to the eastern side is a significant design choice, offering a form of integration, a completion of the living space inspired towards openness. Garage space completes the volume, with access from the western side. The southern side is completely enclosed and plastered over: a pure geometric delimitation that tangibly frames the cross-section of this core.
The two volumes connect via a kind of hinge in the building, a covered passage integrated into the building as a variation and (not just formal) definition of the residence. This connection manifests itself through the creation of a material, chromatic accent; metal sheets sport a grey coloration towards the exterior and a bright orange color towards the inside. The chromatic variation is of relevance to the entire residence, through the “open” (orange color) and “closed” positions of the “corridor”, significantly varying perception and perspective, and generating a sightline towards the countryside behind the home.
The residence’s accents, examples of coherence and heightened living values are all enhanced by co-penetration and connection among its spaces as they relate between inside and out, presenting different possible ways of experiencing the internal areas and the spaces outside them, identifying focal core variables spanning color, material and pathways. The interior space is further regulated by the two-way, interwoven division of the floor into stone slabs flanked by traditional ceramics. These elements accompany one another across the walls of the main rooms, gradually fanning out in the communicating “corridor” between the two volumes to define a conceptual pathway that underlines continuity.
Location: Mazzarino (CL)
Gross Floor Area: 197 m2
Design Team: Livio Ficarra, Silvia Nardi, Giuseppe Cataldo, Andrea Sigona
Contractor: Edil Orion
Structural: Giuseppe Cristaldi
Load-bearing structure in masonry: Legnobloc
Outdoor Flooring and Coverings: Ducale Marmi
Roof covering: Floor Gres (Gruppo Florim)
Plaster: Fassa Bortolo
Interior Flooring and Coverings: Ragno (Marazzi Group)
Photography: © Santo Eduardo Di Miceli courtesy LFSN