In the green hills around Biella, a large villa from the 1960s where large glass portions become a device that redesigns the relationship between outdoor and indoor zones, and the past and present of a place, in pursuit of a continuum with nature

A film that’s always new: just change your perspective. Nothing can hamper the ideal vision of a transparent container immersed in nature that enters the house, on the splendid hills surrounding Biella, a solid, affluent territory with an entrepreneurial calling, not far from Milan. We are not talking about the Teca House, the paradigmatic manifesto of Federico Delrosso, the architect-designer with a local background, but instead about a work of renovation that shares that project’s concept, timing and retrofitting, as well as its location in a context of landscape and historical memory.

 


Federico Delrosso
°
"What makes architecture special is that alchemy that is generated between the built space, those who live it and those who conceived it. Generating an emotion for me is the fourth fundamental dimension, which translates into the continuous search for visions and points of observation that can offer visual continuity and connection on a design and conceptual level, to create free paths also to the imagination of each of us. In architecture there is a constant passing of the baton between yesterday and today that makes everything present and current. Adherence to what is contemporary means continuous connection and mingling with what surrounds and urges me. Architecture needs to include reality, the context, natural or urban, to preserve the "spirit of the places". This is why I believe that true architecture cannot stop at external surfaces, but must unfold, like a moebius strip, from the outside to the inside, without interruption. This is also my idea of Naturalistic Architecture, understood not only as a relationship with nature but with man as part of it. " (Federico Delrosso, architect)

This large oblong villa, in fact, has been part of the territory of Biella since 1965, constructed by the architect Boffa Ballaran, including a well-groomed park of 10,000 square meters, with flourishing vegetation of tall trees and a green carpet for tennis, alongside a volume built ten years later, in 1975, for the swimming pool and related facilities. Today it has become the dwelling of one of the children of the former owners, with a new family. And the place has changed. Glass has replaced the decoration and the solidity of the walls, as the solutions of full-height glazing generate perspectives from the inside, and the composition permeable to light and vision becomes a device that speaks of a total indoor-outdoor connection, while respecting the past of a work and a context.

 

Specifically, the project sets out to restore lightness and dematerialization to a complex layout, coherently absorbing the separate volume of the indoor pool while creating new vectors of fluid crossing and transition to the spaces developed in the main building with a single above-ground level, to which to add a small loft for a studio zone and a large basement level for services. “From a compositional standpoint I have conserve the entire pitched roof as a stylistic feature of the existing architecture, marked by traditional wooden beams and a mantle of tiles, while also conserving the two existing patios,” Delrosso explains. “It has been a way to balance the new intervention without altering the proportional balance of the place and its environmental value, as well as the constructive traditions based on essential forms. But several important expansions have been created, closing and reordering a series of existing porticos, and a new stereometrics form has been inserted with a metal structure that extends the space of the kitchen outside, with a glazing through which to face the garden.”

 

The layout is organized around the central patio, with glass doors, which becomes an inner courtyard opening into a large access corridor for the rooms, at the core of the layout."

The layout is organized around the central patio, with glass doors, which becomes an inner courtyard opening into a large access corridor for the rooms, at the core of the layout. Then, as in the original design, the living area is placed in the southern and eastern parts, but it has been redefined with a sequence of open, communicating episodes. The bedroom zone to the east and north has been revised in a linear scheme, offering six bedrooms (master suite plus five units for children and guests, with associated bathrooms).  

“The closing of the large west portico has permitted us to introduce a wellness area with a sauna and a Turkish bath, in direct connection to the living area, but placed off center,” the designer continues. A careful selection of tailor-made elements and materials makes the overall architectural identity homogeneous, unified, without breaks, also in chromatic terms.

Glass has replaced the decoration and the solidity of the walls, as the solutions of full-height glazing generate perspectives from the inside, and the composition permeable to light and vision becomes a device that speaks of a total indoor-outdoor connection."

From the standpoint of expression, only two main materials have been utilized: “Petit Granit limestone of Belgian origin for the floors of the living areas, in a polished version for the interiors and a sand-blasted version for the outdoor zones,” says Delrosso, “and oak in the bedroom and wellness areas; the same wood shared by all the horizontal ceilings, which contain and disguise the lighting and audio systems.” While the presence of wood warms the mood of the domestic landscape, metal left in a natural state is the other visual and tactile protagonist of the narration and search for synthesis of the project, both in the private rooms and in the flexible islands set aside for sharing and indoor-outdoor enjoyment, as always with a rigorous, essential, elegant image. This becomes explicit, in an emblematic way, in the terse graphic figure of the staircase, which seems almost suspended as it connects the living area, the loft and the reflections of the landscape.

Project Federico Delrosso architects - Greenery design Anna Scaravella - Photos Matteo Piazza

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