“A person will always be narrated by his home,” said Vico Magistretti. But not by the interiors of this single-family house in the green zone of Hampstead, which are a self-portrait of the architectural and spiritual approach of Claudio Silvestrin, though he did not design them for himself, or for an inhabitant with a particular personal history. This is a ‘turnkey’ offering.

“Designing is a creative act through which what I love is made manifest,” Silvestrin has often said. And again in this case, in the original situation in which the project has matured, his way of designing “as a synonym for the verb to love” stages a unique setting that could not be reproduced elsewhere, where everything is new and at the same time nothing is new.

Starting with the enclosure of the house, a cottage with a romantic English garden, bearing the signature of local architects linked to the municipality of Hampstead, symbol of the historic passage from the Garden City to the Garden Suburb: “the place had to be concealed from prying eyes, perceived as barely visible, understated.”

The real spectacle is inside: another world, forceful and austere, terse in form and radical in expression, with carefully honed details, inspired by an ideal of absolute purity, to generate a space in which to get away from the world, timeless, permeated by a sense of tranquility.

After all, Silvestrin has never made a mystery of his methodology and his paradigms of reference: “In both architecture and design,” he says, “I look for the emotion of the material, to bring out the power of a physical presence that with as little visual noise as possible can channel energy and vibrations, putting us back in touch with our center, which is often shaken by infinite stimuli.”

So the materials that uniformly clad the five levels of the building – including two basements – are few in number, carefully selected: large slabs of yellow porphyry (supplied by Fratelli Pedretti) for 80% of the walls and floors; bronze-effect burnished brass for the casements, frames and handles, of essential design (by Intek), oak for the custom wardrobes and the floors in the bedrooms on the first and second floors (by Itlas), balancing white walls with large panes of transparent glass, to emphasize the relationship with the outdoor spaces.

“All the materials come from Italy,” the architect says, “along with the cabinetmakers, the masons, and all the highly specialized craftsmen (of Archimax) who have contributed to the project.”

The furnishings, alongside the fixed custom pieces, including iconic models designed by the architect for major Italian players like Boffi Bagno, Minotti Cucine, Viabizzuno for the lights inserted in cuts in the walls, like canvases by Lucio Fontana.

The majestic swimming pool, located in the lower basement, with its venerable looking stones, seems to have always been there: a coup de théâtre in which the juxtaposition of weight and lightness, solids and voids, creates precise visual axes and vanishing points.

On the ground floor, for the living area, the same compositional symphony reappears in the dialectical relationship between the sculptural stone curves that accompany the two stairwells on the south side, and the row of continuous glazings to the north, opening onto a terrace facing the garden.

Nothing interrupts the sensation of fluid, open, clear continuity, inside and outside. The pursuit of dialogue with the four elements of nature – stone, air, fire, water – to convey a sense of connection with the earth, has always been part of Silvestrin’s architectural gestures (just consider the stores for Giorgio Armani or Giada). For the moment, this house thrives only on essential formal rigor.

Tomorrow, the colors of the lives of the inhabitants will light it up with other tones.

Photos by James Morris – Text by Antonella Boisi

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An evocative view of the swimming pool, lined – like the entire enclosure – with large slabs of yellow porphyry (supplied by Porfido Fratelli Pedretti). Lighting fixtures by Viabizzuno.
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The dining area. The table and bench in wood are based on the Millennium Hope model designed by Silvestrin for Cappellini in 2000. The chairs are produced by Carl Hansen & Son, design Hans J. Wegner. The essential character of the setting is reinforced by the fire niche cut into the stone wall.
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Exterior view of the cottage-style architecture of the house.
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The living area features the continuous sculptural expanse of the full-height glazing on the garden, with casements and handles in bronze-effect burnished brass by Intek. Minotti sofa. Sculpture supplied by Victoria Miro Gallery.
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The entrance zone forms a visual axis towards the living area; water runs unexpectedly in the horizontal opening attached to the stone wall, while on the opposite side stands the row of full-height custom wardrobes in oak (produced by Itlas).
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View of the Terra kitchen in porphyry and oak, designed in 2005 by Claudio Silvestrin for Minotti Cucine.
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The internal staircase featuring floor lamps designed for Viabizzuno.
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The plans of the three above-ground levels.
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The Tevere bathtub designed for Boffi, in porphyry, part of the I Fiumi collection (1999), is the protagonist of the master bath.