na3 – Studio di Architettura | Casa al Gianicolo
I believe that the embryonic stage of a project is something very intimate that a designer can often find it difficult to share, more so than during the “operational” stage. The sharing and comparison stage which are necessary and fundamental aspects come later on. After the first survey and the perception of this large area, I reflected on how it could be modified, taking into account the nature of the property and the demands of the client.
My almost immediate reaction was to summarize the entire intervention (both project and executive phases) using some poetic statements by Giò Ponti, which became essential elements of reading for this Roman residence:
1. “FLOORING IS A THEOREM”
- the design of the flooring, with differentiated staves, scans the empty and full building volumes and becomes the main theme of the project. ( “… walking on it is an adventure … and not just of a pedestrian kind” ).
2. “THE WINDOW IS A TRANSPARENCY (IT IS VISION, IT IS LIFE)”
- top priority to light and the full height views (both internal – see the children’s playroom – and external).
3. “THE ROOM IS A WORLD”
- relating the world of a room through the architecture of the interiors; the kitchen and the loft area dedicated to the children’s playroom, two worlds compared, mirrored, viewed and reflected one within the other. The internal world of the children’s toys, seen on one side, world of “adults” on the other.
4. “THE VAULTED ROOF IS A GETAWAY”
- A transparent glass ceiling to eliminate all visual restrictions, to look beyond, to see shadows reflected on the ceiling of the master bedroom ( “… the ceiling is the cover of the room; it is its sky”).
5. “THE STAIRWAY IS AN ABYSS”
- the stairway connecting the 4th and 7th level is in the middle of two walls, but detached from the same (“… the most beautiful stairway is the one which meanders between two walls. Enclosed. You can only see one flight at a time and you do not know where it will end. It may never finish. There can be dark steps and light walls”).
2007: the project at this residential area in Rome begins and foresees the merger of three apartments spread over 4 different levels and an additional two rooms – an area now used as a laundry – in the basement.
It is a house intended for a couple with children and considerable interest in art as well as a rather convivial way of life.
The section study, performed before the floor-plan, was a vital phase to distribute the spaces on the different height levels imposed, in addition to the different functional requirements of the Client.
The apartment, in fact, is characterized by the layout on seven different levels: six levels imposed by the existing building, whilst the seventh (the large loft) was created in the design phase.
Approximately one third of the large apartment (approx 250 square meters) was allocated to the day area, living room and kitchen, with direct access and overlooking the private garden; the custom-built loft (in wood and iron), crosses the two environments length-ways, and the railing of the loft is the extension of the full and empty sections of the living area.
The design of the flooring, which has huge differentiated slats to scan the volumes, projects them to the ground, reinforcing the sense of overspill between one level and another.
The loft area is designed with a relaxation-reading area in the first section, it then turns into a “children’s play area” (accessed from the bedroom) a kitchen, shielded by the large transparent tempered glass wall. The kitchen and the “children’s play area” hence interact with each other, looking and being looked at. Both convivial and “game theatre” areas: the hob and the art of cooking on the one hand, the joy and inventive skills of a child on the other. In the evening, just like the theatre, the curtain falls (a curtain used to obscure the glass).
The transparent tempered glass is used once again on the master bedroom en-suite bathroom ceiling, this time arranged horizontally; they make the space more functional, providing natural lighting and also serving as a flat-diaphragm, almost invisible and intangible, which can be used to “reinvent” the area from time to time, creating a play of shadows projected onto the ceiling of the bedroom which looks like a starry sky.
Another element of the project is the long seventeen meter divider that intersects the three levels and redesigns the spaces giving them brand new features:
- subdivision of the living room – kitchen | day area
- distribution corridor | night area
- division of the master bedroom from the bathroom | night area
The same wall has a height of five meters in the day area, and then gradually decreases as it changes levels, in the distribution corridor area and the master bedroom. The height of the doors flush-mounted in the walls is matched in order to achieve a constant upper alignment.
The steps of the stairway used to change levels are made from grey resin cement, and are apparently detached from the walls (with slots of 2cm x 2cm in height and depth).
Having worked with progressive subtractions and simplifications, the few materials used give the whole area a most discreet air: massive oak slats, cement and resin for the stairs, resin for the covering of the bathroom walls with stone inserts.
There are very few colors, as in this intervention the only colors found are those of the materials: white (the walls have been painted with matt enamels and the same natural and artificial light), the brown-grey of the oak, and grey (the stone kitchen) .
Location: Rome, Italy
Architect: na3 – Studio di Architettura | Nicola Auciello
Project year: 2007-2009
Photographer: Celeste Cima