Comano is a small Ticinese village located just north of Lugano at the foot of the Alpine hills. From the outset, the steep slope of the site itself suggested that it be treated as an architectural element. The land mass was considered part of the built volume and as such, terraced to create the living levels of the house. Each terraced level corresponds to an inhabited volume, the covered and heated part of the level upon which it sits.
The typology of the house brings to mind a shifting rail track system whereby on different height levels, volumes slide along rails until reaching their correct position. Each volume opens up in a distinct manner in order to connect the spaces internally, expanding the spaces along the fall of the land, framing and capturing significant parts of the surrounding landscape and inviting it into the intimacy of family life.
The result is an organic system that from afar appears as an impenetrable stack of stone boulders, emphasising the private character of the house. Once inside however, the spaces open out to a view of almost 360 degrees. The inhabitant is placed at the heart of an unspoilt green landscape that extends all the way to the foothills of the Alps.
A large opening, accentuated by the reinforced concrete walls supporting the carved slope, forms the entrance portal of the house, for pedestrians and vehicles alike. As in the Treasure of Atreus, one enters into the heart of the mountain and is drawn first into a sort of compression chamber before being pulled up into the upper volumes through the void of the stairs, which lie at the centre of the house. Like a pathway through a park, the stairs follow the natural slope of the land, connecting all the levels of the house. The hill was excavated in order to insert the house into the landscape that then frames it: the synthesis of the building and nature. It exploits the valuable terrain without creating any wasted areas. All the green areas are incorporated into the house and every level is lived at garden level. As you ascend the hill, the spaces become increasingly more open to the landscape. The level of intimacy too changes: the lower levels , formally more closed, are reserved for the bedroom areas whereas the upper levels open to the unspoilt landscapes, framed so as to cut out the built environment of the valley floor.
The transitional spaces between the interior and exterior are characterised by the large porticoes that extend the section of the house and define its lateral elevations. The reduction of the formal elements underlines the idea to build using a combination of elements that draw on an aesthetic derived from a synthesis of a functional language.
The internal spaces are organised in a way that they each seem to flow into each other. Every space, designed according to a rectangular geometry, offers a proportion that radiates an emotional harmony.
In addition to the research that concerns itself with the perceptual aspects of the inhabitants, the project was shaped around the study of the site's sun exposure. This has influenced the orientation of the openings that regulate the degree of seasonal shading and maximise the potential of the winter sun. This principle culminates in the upper level glazed patio area that takes full advantage of its exposure to the sun, particularly in the evening.
Like parts of a natural organism moulded by external influences that become synthesised into one form, the materials used in the house uphold the principle of a minimal, concentrated language. The elemental building material for example, reinforced concrete, relates itself to the granite landscape of the Swiss Alps.
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