The site is located at the edge of the old village of Gorduno in Ticino. To the north and west it is bordered by the newer residential extension of the village, to the south lies the garden of the local primary school and to the west, there is an old house owned by the client. The intention is to treat the building as if it were, from a distance, a beacon of an unfinished and imaginary fortification, defending the heart of the village.
The parameters of the project were defined by the clients' remit for intimate spaces within which each member of the family is afforded their own privacy and at the same time, are also connected and related to one another. To meet this desired sense of spaciousness, the design choices include a large north facing wall with an opening to the undisturbed pristine landscape, the expansion of the interior spaces facing onto a new courtyard and the vertical shift of the floors.
The north facing wall assumes the character of a bastion and, for principle of economy, is embellished only with the traces of the poured concrete that show the section of the house.
The small size of the interior space is compensated for at a perceptual level thanks to its extension outwards and to the visual continuity between the various spaces across their diagonals. The living spaces thus become an inviting and pleasant flow of connections and perceptions.
On the south facade, the external extensions of every floor are related both to each other and to the internal environments. In contrast to the solid north face, they form the 'soft side' of the structure; these cut-outs of the main volume that express the internal structure, reveal the organisation of the house and offer additional living space.
Gorduno is a very small house that offers a multitude of sensations. Every family member can retire to their own space, spaces on different levels, all with different characteristics: the parents with their double height patio; the oldest son on the first mezzanine; the other children on the first floor; the communal spaces, the living rooms and kitchen on the upper levels. The domestic path concludes in the living room, the evening space that opens out to a beautiful valley to the west and projects the inhabitants into the landscape of the past.
The reinforced concrete shell, like a contemporary stone, takes on the granite tones of the surrounding mountains and the traditional stone buildings of the village. Its monolithic appearance deliberately recalls the imposing presence of the volume of the nearby church, with which it is in quiet dialogue.
The excavated parts of the volume become the transitional spaces between the interior and exterior, defining four levels of intimacy: intimate, private, semiprivate, public. These volumes, partially covered, part protected by translucent elements, also function to regulate and generate a particular microclimate. Opening to the southwest and closing to the northeast, the simple principles of passive heating are applied; in winter months the low winter sun enters and warms the spaces; in the summer, the shaded volumes ensure the internal spaces are kept cool and through the thermal mass of its concrete slabs and the dark grey cement of the floors, the heat of the sun is accumulated and released.
The grey shades of the natural materials infuse the building with an ancient character. The volume is carved as if it were an erratic boulder broken from the mountains, or a granite outcrop pushed from the earth. In building the house, the terrain was not removed but simply made to slide along as though the new arrival has moved it in order to settle on a piece of land that belonged to it. The house arouses the image of a body generated by the earth.
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