Sugnu tra li mura, but not a single stone of this house existed before. It has been built from scratch, in a place that enchants with the colors of its landscape and the serene force of the countryside around Noto. The dream of a new yet ancient, precious project in the heart of beloved Sicily has come true thanks to the owners, with the help of a friend, the architect Gladys Escobar.
The idea was to imagine a microcosm that would respect the natural and architectural habitat, interpreting its ‘ingredients’ and the flavors of the place in a personal recipe. Without vernacular clichés or modernist aloofness.
The concrete house stands on a very steep parcel of land, nestled inside an enclosure of powerful retainer walls in stone dry masonry, mostly salvaged from the rocky hillside.
Materials found on the site, in short: zero-kilometer procurement, for a composition of three basic geometric volumes on a single level.
Basic is the key word: an initial, large rectangular volume has six windows opening on three different sides, for three different views – the courtyard to the left with its stone walls, the countryside extending to the nature reserve of Vendicari at the center, and the typical hilly Sicilian landscape to the right – to host a large, luminous living-dining-kitchen area, an open space marked by the presence of a fireplace.
The second box is more compact, with a short corridor leading to a double bedroom and a guestroom with its own bath on the left, and a laundry corner on the right.
A third, cubical volume with a flat roof, unlike the others with low pitches, completes the perspective, containing the master bedroom with a closet and bath.
The archetypal physical character of dry masonry becomes the factor that adds nobility to the narrative in this architectural setting, taking it out of time without sacrificing the comforts of contemporary living.
Shaped at different heights, all the way to the low bench configuration, the stone surfaces border the terraces and the outdoor spaces with concrete floors, organized in convivial zones adorned by jasmine, myrtle, mastic, agave and other Mediterranean plants.
The stone also lines the striking swimming pool with concrete borders, adapting to the topography in the upper zone facing the house, with an excellent view. It is reached by means of two concrete staircases that seem to plunge into the masonry walls, flanked by tall rosemary hedges.
The sea glitters in the distance, while the gaze embraces a large carob tree, the countryside and the hill, all the way to the glimpse of red sunburst earthenware roofs, made by hand in Gela.
Simplicity, redesigned and reinterpreted through the study of details, casements, openings. All the doors, for example, have double panels clad in okumé and framed by waxed iron sections.
They remind us of Carlo Scarpa, while the roofs of the outdoor arbours are made with wooden boards, with slight gaps, like an updated version of the traditional reeds. In the interiors the terse, essential image of the construction, also perceptible in the depth of the glass doors, shifts to other registers and timbres.
The neutral enclosure with raw stucco walls on the outside, in natural pigments mixed with gray sand, and featuring white ceilings on the inside, with the rhythm of long beams in industrial laminated wood alternating with wooden slats, takes on new colors.
The protagonist on the domestic stage is the floor in salvaged pietra pece, a texture of 50×50 cm modules in limestone naturally steeped in tar, extending to the walls of the showers and adding a patina that vibrates with tones of green and gray.
In the living area the temperature rises: many iron pieces by Antonino Sciortino, with a skewed, dynamic design, accompany the tables designed by Carlo Pintacuda, who did the interior design, with tops in okumé or recycled ceramic, lamps by Michele De Lucchi for Produzione Privata, and many vintage found objects.
Various flea markets have yielded original Carlo Ratti chairs from the 1940s in curved plywood, around the table, a Fifties sofa that has been reupholstered, and two very beautiful seats in woven straw from the same period. All around, the landscape features paintings, Indian black iron lamps, ottomans, ready to welcome new friends.
Photos Alberto Ferrero – Article Antonella Boisi