Case 6

The Row Houses San Martino al Cimino / Italy / 2010

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1 Love 5,712 Visits Published
The row houses of San Martino originate from Ferrara’s belief that architecture must somehow impress and, thus, transform us. This transformation begins to take place through our senses: we see the contrast between light and shadow, feel the mass of the structure and its voids, hear the trickling of a fountain or the beating of raindrops, and smell the perfumes of pine trees as they blend with those coming from the kitchen.
Just like our individual experiences within the spaces, each row house differs slightly from the next. They follow the same floor plans, but gracefully fan out across the terrain to better exploit the south-eastern exposure. Each house tries to capture the essence of its natural surroundings and in doing so, distinguishes itself from its neighboring structure. For example, a wall can cast a variety of shadows throughout the six plans even though its own form remains constant.
Just as the structures move with the terrain and sunlight, Ferrara invites a visitor to enter into a dynamic relationship with the deceptively simple spaces. Viewing, using, and understanding a row house become an exercises in self-discovery. You must pass through a series of labyrinths as the plan is equally divided between covered space and that open to the elements. Inside, you enter into an intimate corridor that takes you towards the wider day area. While looking at the fireplace, you can see onto the terrace and enjoy the natural light shining indoors from all four sides of the space. The ceiling barely rests against the wall, allowing for its concrete beams to cast their playful shadows onto the walls. This riddle-like atmosphere is echoed even in the furnishings where the floor is covered with wood and cool slate, that harmoniously blend into their natural environment.
A English idiom says, “a man’s home is his castle.” This is where we protect ourselves. Yet, if we meet all our needs, then we can reach beyond them. We begin to wonder and dream. Each row house allows for this security and reflection in its courtyard, a metaphor for our internal selves. Here, you are simultaneously distanced from, but enveloped by the pine forest above the house, the trees in the garden, the reflective pool of water at your footsteps, and the hazelnut grove in the valley below.
These structures also invite dialogue with local traditions. Viterbo is famous for its medieval, peperino walls. Ferrara has reused this motif around the complex, but divided each row house with a suspended reinforced concrete wall. The solid wall and its “hanging” projection reiterate how ironically light a mass can appear in contrast to its ancient-looking foundation. Furthermore, the Viterbese area is famous for its fountains and hot springs – leading the architect to include a small pool and cascade in each unit. Finally, San Martino’s sloping roofs have led to regularly terraced levels between the night and day area and the paved and unpaved portions of the gardens.
Fausto Ferraro has created six intimate row houses that seek to exalt the highest potential of the site and prods its viewers to do the same within themselves through the exceptional beauty of these spaces.

Yvonne Mazurek
2005, Chicago Illinois-USA
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    The row houses of San Martino originate from Ferrara’s belief that architecture must somehow impress and, thus, transform us. This transformation begins to take place through our senses: we see the contrast between light and shadow, feel the mass of the structure and its voids, hear the trickling of a fountain or the beating of raindrops, and smell the perfumes of pine trees as they blend with those coming from the kitchen. Just like our individual experiences within the spaces, each row house...

    Project details
    • Year 2010
    • Work started in 2008
    • Work finished in 2010
    • Client Giacomo Scarsella
    • Status Current works
    • Type Single-family residence
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