A house in Sardinia

A house in Sardinia

Architect
Stera Architects

Sophia Los
Location
Porto Cervo, Province of Sassari, Italy | View Map
Project Year
2019
Category
Private Houses
Stories By
Stera Architects

Antrax
© Nicolas Borel
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Windows manufacturerVITROCSA
LightingDavide Groppi srl
Steel Frame WindowOTTOSTUMM SA
ManufacturersAntrax
CoatingsDomus Soluzioni
MarbleIntermarmi

Product Spec Sheet
Lighting
Steel Frame Window
Manufacturers
by Antrax
Coatings
Marble

A house in Sardinia

Stera Architects as Architects

When I was little, I saw the birth of the Aga Khan’s complex, I visited the construction work at Romazzino and Cala di Volpe. On the beach, I used to build hotels with arcades and wooden pontoons instead of sandcastles. I saw the birth of Cini Boeri’s black house from the beach of Monte d’Arena. A bunker that was not unanimously admired, but that I liked. Today, recreating a poetic link with the intentions developed by the Aga Khan on edges of the Emerald Coast and a whole set of interesting architects became the goal that I set myself on this land that I love. Ever since, as a child, I clambered over the Sardinian rocks. I have known their outlines by heart and their fantastic forms have nurtured my imagination. «A house in Sardinia» fits into these natural volumes. The client embraced these themes and left complete freedom for a non-bourgeois layout of spaces and uses. I promised the client a “barefoot palace” that has now taken shape ...

 

The site

It is in the most characteristic elements of the Sardinian landscape that the site reveals its finest qualities, which are so many challenges to be overcome: the rugged terrain, the countless rocks, the wild inlet... This testing potential was not fully exploited by the old house that stood on the site. It had only one orientation, to the south, failing to take advantage of the light and coolness of the wooded vegetation along the road to the north, on the upper part of the site. It also failed to reveal any of the beauties of the sea below, or the poetry of the rocks with their amazing shapes. Despite the length of the plot overlooking the coast, access to the sea was not made the most of by the site and it was only revealed from the sea.

A grassy area dipped obliquely towards the sea. Because of the slope, this part of the garden was rather featureless and not at all welcoming. Based on these observations, the architect Stefania Stera set her goal as the creation of a house whose volumes would not alter the site, but would serve to magnify it, in the finest tradition of Porto Cervo.

 

The project
The operation is in line with the initial project of Porto Cervo, begun in the sixties by the Aga Khan with the Costa Smeralda consortium. To design and build this house, the architect wanted it to be embedded in the site, exploiting all its features. The house is designed to inscribe itself in its whole setting, with a heart that can be inhabited in any season. The whole constitutes an architectural promenade in harmony and continuity with nature, where different worlds meet and cross, one complementing the other.

So the site and the habitat nurture each other. Materials and craft skills come together and endow the whole with a dimension of durability and humanity. The founding gesture of the project, the one that determines its location, is the plotting of two axes: one projected towards the sea, the other soaring towards the rocky cliffs. Their crossing allows for the articulation of different places important in the site and the layout on two levels, both seen as the ground floor.

The ground-floor level was hollowed out of the site. It creates a closer relationship with the sea and better use of the garden. A green terrace, “the flying carpet”, will overlook the sea. A ledge path running along the sea reveals and enhances the waterfront of the site. This ledge path serves many places on the site, true singular events with multiple functions. The layout of the house is not conventional. The real entrance is the courtyard while, for instance, the hall itself is small and forms a transitional space, widening gradually until it reaches the next room and enriches it. The rooms are laid out around the main courtyard. The latter, surrounded by various volumes articulated on the site and the spaces of the house, is bathed in the late afternoon by the setting sun.

The light is reflected on the façades that surround it and creates a bright core in the midst of the whole. From a functional point of view, three accesses have been inserted from the street: • the main entrance, serving the courtyard, • parking space for cars devised as a “boulevard” where vehicles can park freely, avoiding the regimented effect. For this purpose, a sliding wall is set on the street. • access to the caretaker’s house by a courtyard that can double as a garage. Access to the basement level is provided from three different points: the courtyard, the space devoted to services and a smaller courtyard located to the east, near the main parking garage.

The main access to the house is in the courtyard. A door leading to a rather discreet hall serves two rooms on the ground floor and, upstairs, the living room, dining room, office and master suite. The master suite, which occupies the rest of the floor, is a spacious set of enclosed and open spaces in a rich sequence of events and atmospheres framing views of the natural setting: small courtyards, patios, terraces, bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms. In particular, it has a U-shaped lounge open wide towards the sea and the small courtyard in the heart of the site. The living room develops in length, parallel to the sea. The dining room is oriented to the west.

A large patio located on the north side of the courtyard forms a porch with access from the street. A staircase gives access to the roof, part of which is laid out as a terrace, the rest being covered with greenery, like the relationship between the very mineral house and its site. The small courtyard gives access to the “canyon”, seen as the backbone serving fascinating different nooks and corners of the site. A slope runs down from the living room to the east connects it with the lower level, completing a loop through an architectural promenade on the site.

 

The materials
The choice of materials, in harmony with the nature of the site, confirms and enriches the concept of the house.
- Granite ensures a direct relationship with the natural setting and marks the entrance sequence.
- An anthracite coating evokes the rocks.
- Marble developed in layers unfolds like a rug in the living room and in continuity with the exterior

 

The singularity of the house is based on the treatment of many spaces with ceramic, like azulejos. A refined and colourful facing, very smooth, it evokes coolness. This detail endows it with the character of an alcove, where there are sequences of spaces in the open air, purely geometric, and standing out from the rest. Functional spaces have floors laid in Venetian terrazzo style. The bedrooms are floored with pietra serena so as to highlight the interior of the rooms and bring out the colours of nature. The two bathrooms in each suite are laid alternately with two types of marble. In the bathrooms, marble is used for the floors as well as the vertical surfaces. Inside, the walls are faced with raw white plaster, to capture the light.

The doors are made of wood and feature parts lacquered in colour to create an alternation and resonance with the colours of the ceramics. The furnishings repeat these materials. To avoid the appearance of traditional dressing rooms and conceive them as living elements, rich and free, they are lined with fabrics with surfaces in wicker patterns. All drawing inspiration from Sardinian materials. Free-standing elements such as chests or suspended shelving complete the amenities, and evoke the atmosphere of a nomadic way of life, like living in a tent.

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Villa Costa Smeralda

Antrax as Manufacturers

The wild landscape of Sardinia, its Mediterranean vegetation, the reliefs close to the coast and the large rocky inlets become an architectural synthesis in the project of Stefania Stera, founder of Stera Architectures, for a private villa in Porto Cervo. Between plastic volumes and a complex layout, the house integrates into the territory of Costa Smeralda, with a long view of the sea, opening onto a large, shaded courtyard, protected from the wind and lit only by sunset, around which spaces and terraces articulate for about 350 sqm. The residence is moulded as one of the stones smoothed by the water and the wind on the coast: its grey colour evokes the pebbles and its fluid perimeter now cut out by voids, openings and tunnels, now with projections make its appearance even more spontaneous and closer to the morphology of the place.

photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography

"Since childhood, I have climbed Sardinian rocks, of which I know by heart all the contours and fantastic shapes that have nourished my imagination. The house in Sardinia fits into those natural volumes. The client is in tune with these themes and has given me total freedom to create a non-bourgeois arrangement of spaces and uses. I promised him 'a palace to live barefoot', which has now taken shape," explains the director of the Paris-based architecture studio, who has nestled the rooms of the 750 m2 villa amidst the pre-existing plot. The ground level is made up of separate blocks, with sleeping areas that enjoy maximum privacy, and arranged above this ‘as a bridge’ develops the upper level, dedicated to the living area and completed by two large suites with bathrooms.

photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography

The external walls of the villa are almost entirely in smooth, anthracite grey plaster, which harmonises with the granite used for the entrance and some of other outdoor spaces. Contrasting with this camouflage is the use of small ceramic tiles, hand-decorated with light blue, blue and turquoise patterns, which define indoor and outdoor areas with a strong Mediterranean feel. There are also wood, polished resin and natural marble claddings of different types, in large, luminous ambiences dominated by the colour white, where the boundaries between inside and outside are lost and merge in the enhancement of the panorama. 

photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography

An example is offered by the bathrooms, where large windows with soft ivory-coloured curtains provide direct access to the terraces, with stone niches and an image of great wellbeing suggested by the shapes, materials and relationship with the vegetation. The soft contours of the architecture can be found again here in the built-in washbasins, shower compartments and radiators, model Tubone by Antrax IT, chosen in white to warm the rooms during the colder seasons.

photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography

Designed by Andrea Crosetta, Tubone derives from a steel tubular with an important section - 60 mm -, used to give life to an elongated oval ring available in three different modules that can be replicated, overlapped (until to two heating bodies) and, if necessary, accessorized with a towel rail. In Stera Architectures' design, Tubone is inserted with water supply and reproduces the colour scheme selected for the taps, accessories and internal envelop in a game where the design composition is essential and at the same time indelibly bound to the place and context, of which it becomes a contemporary manifesto. 

photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography
photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography
photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography
photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography
photo_credit Tiziano Canu Photography
Tiziano Canu Photography

Read story in Italiano

Project Credits
Manufacturers
Construction demolition, earthworks, tiles
Local architect Phase 2
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