Caserta || Italy
This country residence with its multiple influences forms part of this open landscape while also observing it, overlooking the hills and surrounding greenery of these undulating lands. The house is built on a rectangular platform that forms a sort of artificial horizontal base that accentuates the small but evident difference in level between the south-east and north-west sides, opening up numerous interpretations. The adoption of such a platform could be a way of normalising the land, marking the intersection between natural and artificial, whilst simultaneously maintaining a feeling of distance and relative independence between architecture and landscape.
The essence of the house is conveyed through the regularity of volumes, the intersection of views and walls, the combinations of colours and materials and the use of accents and transitions. The result is constant interaction where individual elements work to form a very deliberate whole. The layout and the volumes are imbued with the essential nature of “living”, with a clear separation between the two bedrooms and the living and kitchen area. For both areas, the large windows help extend the living area onto the artificial platform.
On the opposite side, the corridor is kept to a minimum and runs along the most closed of the walls, with only two windows of different sizes, one - bigger and horizontal - provides light to the staircase leading to the basement, while the other is for the entrance. The bedroom and living areas can be seen as two separate, yet parallel volumes. A deep, clear-cut and a visible empty space sharply divides the building into two and leads to the entrance, like a perpendicular corridor inserted into the body of the construction, between plastered walls and protected by a roof. The volume on the south-west side, facing the landscape, is defined by the glazed sections and the empty space that unites and separates the various parts.
This section has a compositional unity that comes from the light-coloured plastered partitions that stretch out from the body of the building onto the platform and the dark overhangs that jut out, providing shade. This use of architectural elements to create "frames" is replicated throughout the house. On the opposite side (facing away from the landscape), the external plastered wall has only two windows and looks onto, across a small pathway, the garden wall made of smooth cement slabs. Local stone is used for the external baseboard and trabeation, focusing on the materials and framing the wall with horizontal flow of this material.
This emphasises the use of different materials and, when viewed from the outside, provides a "pedestal" on which the view of the hills and woods in the background rests. On the sides, the local stone takes up the full height of the wall and is also used in the wall partitions that, as a partial perimeter, are located on the short sides of the layout to create a sheltered space. Exposed concrete beams and pillars frame the pattern of the stones, but also seem subordinate to them, rather like a veil or a musical embellishment.
The light coloured coatings, the local stone and the concrete form contrasts, distinctions, digressions and variations, exposing the differing connections between the architecture and the landscape. In essence, the building is a skilful combination of materials, colours, expressions and content.
Location: Dragoni, Caserta
Gross Floor Area: 160 m2
Architects: Davide Vargas
Works Management: Davide Vargas
Structural: Ludovico Matteucci
Bathroom fizxtures and floors: Esagono
Photography: © Luigi Spina
Davide Vargas Studio
David Vargas began his career in 1981. Between 2003 and 2010, he operated Vargas Associati with Luciano Palmiero, and later returned to working alone. Over the years, he has collaborated with many professionals. At present these include Francesca Parisi and Fabio Palma, with whom he oversees the work of various young architects and trainees.
His projects include the San Prisco town hall and a student accommodation facility on the site of the former Aversa prison (both were selected for the Italian Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Biennale) and the Sclavia winery in Liberi, Caserta (selected for the Italian Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale) and Casa F in Dragoni, Caserta. Other designs – including Casa a Righe in Aversa, Country House in Liberi, a grave monument, and a design prototype – have been featured in architecture journals Domus, l’Arca, Abitare, Area, and d’Architettura. In 2010 he won the InArch Campania architecture prize.