RENEWAL OF A XIV CENTURY HOUSE
renewal | historical building | restoration | stone | ancient wood | stairs | self-made | alpine architecture | interior design | details |
with Giulia Galdini
The project concerns the renovations to a small building used as a holiday home, situated in a medieval hamlet lying on the slopes of the mountains of the Valsassina, just above the lake of Lecco. The outer and inner walls, the slate roof, the chestnut attic roof timbers were all original and dated from around 1400. The L-shaped house develops around a small courtyard which gives access to the c.60 sqm dwelling, situated on the first floor. The area under the roof was originally open and used as a hayloft, and the project envisaged closing this off with large windows, doing away with the internal attic and allowing access directly from the living room area through a connecting staircase.
There have been a number of unsightly additions to the building over the years, and the main ones were removed, non original elements substituted and the materials still in good condition reserved and employed later on in unusual guises. For example, the roof joists that were no longer usable were cut in “slices” to obtain the stairs. The first floor ceramic paving was rid of its varnish, then treated and restored, as were the original chestnut roof planks, which were recovered and used as flooring. The load-bearing walls were painstakingly liberated of the thick layers of plaster that covered the stones, which, once sanded and cleaned, were left exposed. In carrying out this operation, the fragment of a fresco depicting a religious subject dating from the 1500s emerged, which probably originates from when the house was linked with the neighbouring chapel.
The living room area has become the fulcrum to the house. A double-heighted area overlooking all the spaces in the house, centred on the new stairs and the newly cleaned and restored frescos. The stairs are the renovation’s most recognizable element. They were built with a light structure, so that the frescos can be seen from the entrance. The profile in rusted iron is L-shaped, attached to which are the treads, made from the recovered chestnut roof joists.
In a similar fashion, the fixtures of the windows that close off the attic area have been made from rusted iron in order to give the new elements a uniformity and readability with respect to the original structure.
So as not to introduce subdivisions and closings-off that might alter the original structure, and also to provide greater versatility, the area under the roof has been left as a single open room. New windows have been opened along the north side and on the west in order to benefit from views of the woods and mountains, which are obscured on the side of the large window because of the other buildings in the hamlet. The house is minimally furnished - almost empty – to emphasize the structure that gradually took shape as the renovations progressed.