The project involves the restoration and interior design of a small apartment in a famous Roman building designed by notable architect Filippo Raguzzini and built between 1725 and 1730. This building, together with four others, defines the famous and picturesque Piazza Sant’Ignazio, an intimate public square that provides continuity to the space at the interior of the church after which the square was named.
Located in the heart of historic downtown Rome, adjacent to the Temple of Hadrian and a short walk from the Pantheon, the apartment is quintessentially Roman. This atmosphere of history and the apartment’s unique position in the urban context drove all of the design decisions, from the very first sketch.
Here a notable renovation and restoration is performed with an elegantly minimal gestures as to emphasize the elaborate city beyond. Large windows welcome the city inside and echo the light reflected from the pale yellow and travertine facades of the adjacent buildings.
The project uses simple materials: Navona travertine, chestnut, original nineteenth-century decoration and, most importantly, soft whites and a lot of light. The simplicity in the use of materials was offset by a sophisticated spatial richness, with sudden contractions and expansions in both plan and section. With the addition and subtraction of simple volumes the interior plays spatially on a small scale as historic Rome does on a large scale with its complex spatial overlapping and juxtaposition.
Originally the apartment was an easement to a much larger adjoining apartment and consisted of three similarly sized rooms. The rooms, placed one after another, were accessible from one dark corridor with a low dropped ceiling, terminating with a bathroom and kitchen.
In order to obtain a functional and usable apartment layout, a new distribution, along with a series of consolidation and restoration works, was proposed to provide a clear distinction between living and sleeping zones. The demolition of select interior partition walls and the removal of the dropped ceiling made it possible to design a large, bright open living space with four-meter high ceilings.
Taking cues from the geometric shape of the existing structural wall at the entrance to the apartment, a new volume was added to both balance the spatiality of the entry and to screen the kitchen from the front door. This volume organizes the space in a simple and effective manner and frames the successive spaces. During the demolition work, original nineteenth-century stencil drawings were discovered on the wooden ceiling beams and their subsequent restoration gives the space an even more interesting, characteristic, and charming feel.
From the living space a small opening on the thick bearing wall opens to the sleeping area. These two zones are further distinguished by having different ceiling finishes, where, for example, the bedroom highlights the chestnut beams’ natural color, creating an environment very different from that of the lightly colored and decorated ceiling in the living area.
Here, the sleeping zone has been reconfigured to provide a master bedroom, a guest room, and a bathroom. The master bedroom is a very humble space but is made functional by using existing niches, custom furniture, and a large sliding door. The guest room is designed as a flexible space used for guests or as a small studio, with access to the small loft above created by integrating a dropped ceiling in the corridor. The corridor terminates with a luminous modern bathroom covered in Navona travertine.
An excellent MEP system completes the renovation. In particular, a coiled radiant heating system in the floor, a centralized air conditioning system, and a sophisticated lighting system.
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