Nestled on the Alpine slopes north of Lugano, this house is characterised by a volumetric architecture that emerges from the terrain and follows the natural contour of the land. Its constructed volumes embrace the land in an organic and fluent sequence of spaces, each relating to each other and to the surrounding landscape.
In order to communicate an identity and a language to the inhabitants, the project has a strong and precise form, its clearly identifiable geometric structure delimits an organised development of spaces. Carved in a clear square geometry, the spaces meet the slope and extend in a spiral, fluent movement that continuously changes the perception of the space and its relationship to the exterior, offering striking panoramic views across the hinterland and to Lake Lugano.
The geometry of the house sensitively treats the various site conditions. To the west, it responds to the urban extension of the village of Canobbio. It folds, follows the slope of the land and opens up to the view of the beautiful distant hills. To the east, the strong angular forms of the house mean that it stands as a marker, announcing the end of the urbanised zone and the beginning of the adjacent wood.
The house, sited on a 30 degree south facing slope, is the final plot of buildable land before meeting the boundaries of the encroaching woodland. The three main storeys of the house have been set on the plot at shifted levels in order to meet the corresponding level of the existing site. This offers a direct relation to the outside from all parts of the house at all levels. One always feels rooted to the ground, yet also has the sensation of being suspended above the landscape.
Moving through this house is like taking a walk in the hills. The house is orientated to the south, yet the perception changes on every level. The peculiarity of this place is in the fact that the surrounding landscape appears to be continually turning; the valley below appears as a sculpted hollow, caressed by sunlight, continually changing its character. In the course of the day, the colours, reacting to the elements, twist and turn playfully, causing the landscape that enters into the domestic space to constantly and unexpectedly change. During the day, the sky fades from white to blue in the morning, to blue to yellow and finally settling to evening crimson.
Its prime exposure to the sun affords this house a very efficient energy profile. It takes advantage of the winter sun to absorb and store heat through its dark floors and release it during the evening. The structure is internally insulated and comprised entirely of reinforced concrete. Its white paint allows it to participate in the colour variations of the village that is its backdrop to the north.
The aim of the project is to ensure a visual continuity between the internal and external spaces but moreover, to extend the space beyond its physical boundaries and into the surrounding landscape, ‘borrowing’ the landscape and projecting the idea of space beyond its material limits. The clients' desire for a shell-like home has been met; the house is very private, protected and not overlooked. However the generated form and volume of the house also creates an open, generous outlook, embracing it setting and taking quiet ownership of its prospect.
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