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Monday, March 12, 2012

Serenading Nature

By Savitha Hira

The highlight of a countryside holiday home lay in its open-to-the-elements and airy demeanour; literally in the lap of nature...

Design is universal; irrespective of region and culture. Certain basic tenets tend to repeat in generic design thinking. Call it a logical gradient if you may; but lines, forms, approaches are seen to overlap, many a time, whether the project we look at is in Europe, India or wherever… And climate is one predominant aspect that defines many a line and form.

Michele Rossi of Park Associati from Milan was challenged to create a contemporary home from traditional materials with this house in the countryside, at the foothills of Val Tidone, around 80km south of Milan. The foremost consideration was the restriction on modern architecture in the Piacentine countryside, thus relying heavily on a traditional material palette.

Conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the traditional ‘cascina’ and barns typical of the area, the home presents itself as a modern design, free from nostalgic elements, yet following rules to the tee.

The building is designed with pertinent attention to sustainability: right from its orientation that enables the winter sun to be optimized; while minimizing exposure during the hotter months, to the contextual construction materials, viz., stone, brick, plaster in walls, terracotta roofs, steel frame windows and Larch and Iroko wood flooring that ensure high levels of insulation.

Developed around a central covered courtyard - very much akin to the traditional Indian aangan, that constitutes the heart of the home, the ground plus one structure offers unusual views from both levels. The more public ground floor spaces are designed to be continuous with the external areas for access during warmer weather to the courtyard and timber-decked terrace from the living room, while the private areas of the home are relegated to the upper floor. A simple composition that befits a family of four, connecting them with the elements, typically, away from the buzz of metro living.

Here is a home that could fit in well, in any countryside; not following any design trend, but with timelessness as its forte; given to ageing gracefully, burnishing a nice patina to materials and finishing.


  1. I think it is nice. The brick is a little austere, but it has a warmth to it. Simplicity of form that I find more appealing than a lot of the box designs I have seen published.
    Posted by Mark Bischak on linkedin Group: ARCHITECT.

  2. Many design elements are repeated because they work. We almost expect to see them. Famous architects have surprised us with the unexpected. Some surprises have aged gracefully, and some unfortunately less so. Whether that means they are good or bad architecture is a personal view.
    Posted by Michael Brownlow on linkedin Group: ARCHITECT.

  3. Nice details here and there, but there's a lot of chubby cubic footage in this archive of building blocks. How about a little more "maximum comfort in minimum volume"?
    This is what our nation’s tired, our poor, our huddled masses yearning to be free of wretched energy woes need more of today. If you know how to do it, there is no conflict between beauty and utility.

    Posted by Robert Butler on linkedin Group: ARCHITECT.


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