A Casa Vanella

Overlooking the village of Casamaccioli, “a Casa Vanella” is a guest house nested in a natural landscape in the heart of Corsica, in front of three major summits: Monte Cinto, the Paglia Orba, and Cima a i Mori.

The program involved the creation of common spaces, a dining room and lounge areas, as an extension of the main house which accommodates the guests’ bedrooms. The idea was to detach the extension from the house and to situate it in the back of the plot, against a retaining wall in front of the village and the row of mountains. The extension is placed in the back of the “casone” (the family house), which occupies the center of the plot. The architects’ consideration was to integrate the new building in the site without imposing a gesture; instead, the objective was to highlight the particularities inscribed in the project itself.

Lit by the western sun, a Casa Vanella lies in the middle of a unique, timeless landscape. Walls of granite and slate line the chestnut-punctured plots. These majestic trees dazzle with their colors throughout the seasons, until they bare their branches at winter.

As if it were an inhabited retaining wall, the building frames the main constituting elements of the landscape. Three openings are oriented towards each of the three summits. The building becomes landscape, it becomes a place of contemplation, where the sun mediates between a space and its respective summit. In that sense, every evening of the year the setting sun makes those spaces unique.

Through this landscape in constant evolution, the architects wanted to create a project suggesting a duality; a duality between inside and outside. A first glance, the project barely reveals its openings; it appears like a solid mass of granite. Then, as it unfolds, this wall opens, becomes fragmented in order to allow the outward gaze and invite the light, in a controlled and measured way.

In a different way, the building interacts with time by means of its materiality – concrete and stone. Indeed, the juxtaposition of these elements unravels a narrative about the site, but also about time and technical means. Concrete is used in its truest way, forming posts and lintels. Stone is used as infill at the voids of the structure. Inside, the lime plaster incorporates and conceals the technical infrastructure.

The architecture blends the project to the point of dissolution inside a mineral mass, and leaves untouched the principal building, “u casone”. The project wants to graft itself in time, developing a sensibility between tradition, landscape and architecture.

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