The project deals with the renovation of a building that is located in a context characterised by the presence of residential multi-storey condominium. It is a non-urban building from the 20s-30s completely out of context, adjacent to a building from the 70s. Due to being incomplete, it has always been considered a tear, a cut.
The building is composed of two main bodies of different heights. The first body is to be considered the original building and composed by a ground floor, two upper floors and an attic. It has the majority of its perimeter bordering other buildings; despite this it has an L-shape that allows it to have part of its façade with windows to the west and the whole façade to the south composed by a series of different sized openings. The second body is composed of a ground floor and a first floor. It does not seem to be completed even though perfectly defined in its volume.
The project intends to renovate the whole building without proceeding to any demolition of curtain walls, but substituting their covering.
The theme of proximity of the buildings, traceable also in the local rural architecture, becomes central in the project process. This proximity makes the perception of the buildings completely different depending on the point of view. Very close volumes seem to merge in one unique entity. The main intent is that of building the project while adding as little as possible.
The project acknowledges the definition of the two buildings; on one side, the tall building with double pitched roof, on the other, the low building with the covered terrace. The project eliminates the cantilever slab in the low building and creates a linear railing that closes the rectangular geometry of the façade. Close to the stairwell to the first floor, the renovation intentionally tried to make the separation between the two spaces more evident. For this reason, moving back the railing for the width of the stairs and the partial stone covering are functional to the perception of the two elements. The walls’ finish is in rustic plaster and it is present on both bodies. The decision of one material is connected to the desire to not make a clear distinction between the two blocks. A series of light and shadows help to make the two figures noticeable (tall house with roof/low volume with terrace). The chimney on the façade will be moved and the gutter will maintain its ledge; this way, the design of the original covering will remain unvaried. On the tall house, the façade geometry retraces the original one faithfully. However, dimension and alignment of the windows are going to be revisited.
The main theme of the project is that of changing the elements considered disturbing into quality elements, giving them back to the community with new values and meanings. The project overlaps the existing building, working on a limited number of changes, so as to offer a new, united and balanced image. The introduction of these small variations is a breakthrough and it transforms the location.
A forgotten building is regenerated through architecture; the landscape is transformed through the acquisition of a limited intervention, full of new meanings. Architecture denounces the deficiency of the urban context of the town. The simplicity of the building highlights the lack projects in the surroundings.
The whole wall surface has been treated with rustic plaster laid with trowel. The addition of colored pigments and the impossibility of perfectly managing times and laying methods have created different tones. This difference was already present in the original walls that varied, depending on the design, from white to hues of grey. The only painted façade was the one to the south, facing the street and the public.
The project respects this rule and turns it into an added value. The external original staircase is a steep incline to the first floor that through the rusticity of the material (the same plaster laid with trowel) emphasizes the archaic space; a gorge, a rift to climb reverently.
Fir wood is the material used for doors and windows, shutters and for the block on the second floor.
Two geometrically defined elements constitute the façade hierarchy:
the protruding wood block in its compact shape and the large door that closes the entrance of the stairs.
Intentionally, the latter changes its dimensions: it becomes huge and to open it and lean it against wall one needs to use the first steps coming out of the building.
Opening this door becomes a ritual with precise and essential gestures. Opening a door this big inevitably raises expectations.
The compact wood space protruding from the gutters includes a small covered terrace. It allows you to stay outdoors, but protected from snow and rain.
The volume intentionally protrudes out of the edge of the covering; on the outer part, snow falls, mounds and highlights this small space, it claims its presence.
Other wooden parts are faithful to the need to show their simple and rigorous geometry.
The interiors are bright and white. The interest was focused on bringing the different exterior lights inside. In winter, with the light diffused from the snow, the interiors are filled by an amazing white light. The light plasters, the fir wood and the durmast flooring are functional to the pursuit of a general balance. A small skylight allows the light to go through a floor and arrive unexpectedly in the small kitchen and this doesn’t always happen since in winter snow covers this little window. However, in spring the snow melts and lets the light through the building. A surprise, another ritual with different time and methods.
The stairs in white metal end in front of an opening that takes you to the highest terrace. Through this opening, the light fills the stair with a different intensity depending on the time of the day. The white metal and the wooden cover merge in a sensation of perfect symbiosis.
The sound of going up and down the stairs is muffled; the stairs announce that someone is arriving on the upper floor or will appear in a moment in the lower floor. By using it, we can create a new ritual.
The rooms of the living area are like communicating vessels, it is possible to cross the building with a glance and, through the alignment of the windows on the opposite sides, to extend the vision to the outside.
The project was born thanks to an attentive reading of the existing structure and its intrinsic rules. It’s already part of the project to discover the meaning or the unexpressed possibilities. This allows for the selection and reduction of renovations. Everything changes within the existing urbanized context in a simple and very strong acute.