The area covered by the settlement in the town of Giarre, between Catania and Taormina, and extends for just shy of 50,000 sq. m. on the eastern slope of Etna with panoramic views to the Ionian sea, from the Calabrian coast to the Gulf of Catania. The project involves the redevelopment of a big country house towards rural tourism activities, and the reuse, through demolition and reconstruction, of some existing residential volumes with similar objectives. It also includes the construction of a vineyard plant and the land improvement fit for the biodynamic cultivation.
Turning to the buildings, the largest one will combine the residential and tourist functions, through a restoration respectful of the fundamental characteristics, completed with elements of contemporary architecture with the aim of achieving high aesthetic standards and environmental sustainability. The main operations is the elimination of some small structural additions, to restore a currently inaccessible space and to integrate some areas necessary for the work. On the first floor, it will be realized tourist residential rooms. On the ground floor, it will be realized a hall and related services, the accessory body will be used as a very special events and/or conventions hall on two levels. It is also expected, using the morphology of the soil, the creation of a new environment with oriental view, connected to the living room of the main body and to the system of the surrounding park, in expansion/replacement of the previous volume located in the same arrangement; which also will be designed for receptions. The compositional language is used to underline the clearness of the interventions, where the existing one is recovered and brought back to life and the new one is declared thanks to a formal and contemporary background which respects local materials.
In particular, it should be noted the roofing system of the ex pantry/cellar body, proposed again pitched but made of a system of semi-transparent photovoltaic glass on the slope downstream (preferably sunny-side East) and in sheets of pre-oxidized copper on the slope upstream. The system is the connection between tradition and innovation, and it is also an opportunity to resolve some issues related to being the arrangement of the body within the wooded reserve. In fact, no new volume is created neither the gutter lines are altered. Inside, intended to receptive/recreational activities, it is excepted a wooden loft laid on a particular truss system, which is also made of wood, and metal cables, which makes possible the use, depending on what heights is available. So, it will be valorized the stone staircase leading down to the original inside depth, which will be part of the new sign, and we will proceed to the reorganization/redesign of the openings to the outside, which are kept to a minimum due to the presence of the semi-transparent roof. In this area will be brought fully to light the original texture of walls, through which it is possible to appreciate the skilled craftsmanship of the ancient master builders. An aerial wooded walkway will make possible the connection, on the mountain side, between the share loft and the surrounding soil, also depending on the respect of security exit modules.
They are divided into two complex: B and C. The design approach to the two buildings is the same and they are made of a small number of rectangular cells, to scale both in plan and in elevation, to better adhere to the morphology and altimetry of the area. Both are in a basement, (in the thickness on which they stand, also to ensure for the construction an appropriate plan of foundation according to the specifications mentioned in the geological report) used for storage and/or garage, and one floor over the soil level, designed for the residential destination, mainly seasonal. The contemporary forms are enveloped by an energy efficient confinement with ventilated walls covered by lava stone sheets dry assembled on suitable supports/spacers behind which there is the wall itself made of elements in insulating coating clay. The articulation of the plates determines a geometric texture whose mass is confronted with large windows to the precious views. The flat roofing is treated with low thickness hanging gardens, whose mass will ensure an effective thermal comfort, in summer and in winter, as well as the absorption and the elimination by evaporation of a portion of rainwater. Both bodies are then characterized by a solar pergola, which encloses them with a unit sign, provided with wooden frame, that on the headboards reaches the ground becoming a bench. The underground section, on the visible side, will be covered with lava stones, like the existing walls.
More specifically, the B complex, which is about the half of the lot, is composed of three living cells made of a double bed room, living room with kitchenette and bathroom; the living rooms overlook onto the east/northeast, then onto the panoramic views, characteristic which allows the orientation of the solar collectors to the east/south east, very good condition in respect to their efficiency. The Plexus C is made of five cells, each one of a smaller size than the previous, four of which are merged and one is independent, that in order to respect the maximum lengths of the statements laid down by the current building regulations. Among the bodies has been provided, as common service, a large garden area/solarium with whirlpool bath, in the external arrangement. As for the Plexus B, the orientation of the factory is such as to ensure the best position of the element of solar picking up for the purposes of its yield. The individual cells have only one bed room and a bathroom, and are designed to individual users or couples who wish to take advantage of catering services available in the settlement. On the whole, the top view of the system of the buildings A, B, C, make us to perceive a sort of rotary movement of the settlement which corresponds to silhouettes trend of terracing, which the constructions in each case refer.
The pool area is a new forecast: it is made of a main tank and a lower and smaller one between which has been thought a waterfall moving. The movement of the water that overflows from the main tank, will throw in the secondary, will help the oxygenation and thereby reduction of the amount of chemicals elements for his medical treatment. The equipment for the toilets, showers and changing rooms, is obtained thanks to a place setting below the existing system, whose visible wall will also be covered with lava stones, which will determine, somehow, the reduction of the visual impact. Moreover, at the level of the secondary tank of minimum depth, it is provided a unit of outdoor showers, of immediate use for the users and the building premises, which are also located in the thickness and below the terracing.
As described in the introduction and among the aims of the project, the total area will be converted back to its original use and historical context, namely in the vineyard with the system of lines. In particular, as far as possible, we will refer to the techniques of biodynamic cultivation, pursuing the achievement of production standards limiting as much as possible the use of plant protection and/or chemical products, both in the vegetation step that one of transformation of the grapes into wine.
This can be achieved by reusing several precautions of the traditional cultivation, helping a right ventilation system, a right disposal of storm water and, above all, helping the exchanges with cultivation biodiversities and development of land, which together reduce the growth of weeds and increase the development of fruits and leaves. Of course, everything has to be implemented with attention to the natural cycles of growth, development and control of the plants.
For this reason, we have included some “bio-ecological compensation areas where it will be implanted biodiversity such as fruit trees, bushes, ornamental grass, and even rocky areas that, in fact, implement the natural synergy between the various species. A portion of the soil, a part compared to the whole, will be arranged as a park, with the use of limited grassy areas in essences low irrigation needs and spontaneous development, enriched by Mediterranean and local plants, as well as plants fruit trees, olive trees, oaks and others, whose signs are currently available on the site, even in the immediate vicinity.
The areas for the movement of vehicles, mechanical of work or car users, will be realized with the use of natural soils stabilized with a pleasant and harmonious visual appearance but, mainly, with good capacity drained and ease of maintenance. It is expected that those seats are fringed by square blocks of lava stone carved with a chisel and, where necessary, enclosed by wooden simple design system, according to the rural traditions of the place.
Text: Giuseppe Scannella ArchitectLocation: Giarre, Italy Architect: Giuseppe Scannella Architetto Project name: Agritourism