Location_Sammommè, Pistoia


Area_270 sqm


Service_Preliminary project, executive project, building site direction


This project concerns the renovation of an existing house built in the 60s, located in a forest of beech trees in the mountains of north Tuscany.
The exisitng cottage was quite banal: coarse plastered walls, windows with plastic rolling shutters, standard roof tiles and the inevitable continuos “offsets” of the perimeter walls.
After half a century of service, the new owners of the villa decided to renovate the entire building. The only explicit request was to enlarge the terrace overlooking the valley to the south.
We have proposed to the client a simple design operation, a single architectural gesture: build a loggia.
While maintaining the pre-existence, the loggia is repeated on all the sides of the building.
The two entities are strongly distinguished: the old house plastered white, the loggia of gluelam wood.
With this trick, in an area where it’s not permitted the demolition and reconstruction, as any volume’s expansion (increasingly common condition in Italy) Architecture tries its desperate attempt to confirm itself as an autonomous language, a condition only possible whitin a clear readable gesture.
The addition of a “parasite” architectural device makes possible through modest means the transformation of an ugly and modest house in a contemporary villa.
This renovation project thus attempts to deal the impossibility of full expression of architectural discipline within the tight mesh of Italian bureaucracy, where the legislation would suggest the impossibility of a free architectural expression.
Approaching current regulations seems leave no possiblity of redemption from the badly man-made landscape of ‘900 and in other words give to architects the purpose of performing a “morphological restoration” of banality.


The new loggia
The loggia, typical element of Tuscan tradition, is the main element of the project for two reasons.
The first is the need, in the context of a forest, to built a spatial device like a threshold between the exuberance of the outside nature and the protected intimacy of the house.
The second is the attempt to reinvent the entire look of the existing building, while keeping between the two construction phases a sort of dialogue and a track of the design process.
Likewise the operation of Palladio’s Basilica in Vicenza, the loggia creates a space instead of just being a simple facade superimposed to the old one.
The material chosen for the construction of the loggia is pine glulam.
The joints between beams and columns are simple, all the bolts are hide and the wood surface is coated with transparent water varnish.
The home livability is accentuated by the fact that each rooms has its virtual extension in the loggia.
The loggia is usable throughout the year thanks to the temperate climate of Tuscany.


The interior renovation

The existing house is clad with a thick thermal coat that faithfully follows the perimeter and then is plastered again white to give a neutral background for the wood loggia.
All the windows and doors are entirely replaced to achieve a high energy class, using the same wood essence and were designed according to a simple logic: the fixed windows are mounted on the outer edge of the wall, while the operable windows and the doors on the inner edge of the wall.
Wood boxes clad the depth of the walls incorporating the shutters.
The meticulous thermal insulation, heating technologies using biomass (wood pellet boiler and wood heating stove), the use of photovoltaic / solar thermal and radiant floors, make the building extremely performant from the point of view of environmental sustainability.
The existing interior of the house appeared as any banal town apartment: blind hallways, zigzagging corridors, cramped and badly proportioned rooms and the attic floor accessible only by a ladder.
For these reasons the distribution of the interior space has been revolutionized.
The demolition of a large portion of the attic floor transform the living area and the entrance lobby in bright and airy double-height space. In the vestibule finds space a staircase and a mezzanine that leads to the night area.
The main material used inside is oak veneer: floors, ceilings, stairs, doors and most of the furniture come from a single oak tree whose trunk was peeled to obtain 400sqm of veneer.
This modality has accelerated the production and installation of interior finishes, as it allowed to had four different carpenter companies working simultaneously, yet achieve the absolute evenness of all artifacts, thanks to the really same appearance of veneer surface.


Regarding the external areas we took care of containment wall and pedestrian paths, as well as the entrance gate.
For the béton brut retaining walls, we used as formwork many reused wood axles. With their imperfect edges they create a wrinkled vertical texture in relief.

The little pedestrian gate and the big sliding cars gate are made of steel frames covered with wide plates crossed one on top of the other to form a large mesh.
The intercom is hidden behind a fixed plate. The mail box is obtained from the same sheet, laser cutted and fixed to a cylindrical pin which, rotating, opens inwards.

We left deliberately the raw steel outdoors …and the matter from being a dead thing became alive.