Projects

Private villa - Favignana (Trapani)

A Mediterranean jewel

On Favignana, one of the most beautiful of all the Aegadian islands, a dilapidated villa rebuilt in a contemporary style blends into the landscape while using cutting-edge technology to withstand the devastating effects of the location's high salinity
Author
Riccardo Bianchi e Nicoletta del Buono
Photos
Alfio Garozzo
Architect
Francesco Barbalonga
Surfaces
MARAZZI
Year of completion
2015

Once upon a time there was a house suspended between sky and sea in the rugged and enchanted landscape of Favignana, one of the most beautiful of all Mediterranean islands and described by the artist and writer Salvatore Fiume as “the great butterfly on the sea”. But despite the magnificent location, the building was in a poor state of repair. “Favignana is fabulous,” says the owner. “My family and I have always loved it, so much so that we spend much of the year here. But the climatic conditions are extremely difficult for any building. The high salt levels and powerful winds like the sirocco which reach speeds of up to 170 km/h pose a formidable challenge. So when we were thinking about how to renovate the building, we decided that the sensible thing to do would be to demolish it and rebuild it in a modern style complete with cutting-edge technology. As this was our lifelong dream, we wanted it to be absolutely perfect, even if that meant making some crazy cost decisions…”. The project was assigned to a highly experienced architect from Palermo, Francesco Barbalonga, who was nearing retirement but had already worked with the client to their mutual satisfaction. “At first he was reluctant and said he was too tired, but in the end I managed to persuade him by guaranteeing my full cooperation in all technical, executive and even design aspects of the project. The first decision we made was to use ultra-resistant materials that would be capable of withstanding the climatic and atmospheric conditions of the location, particularly the deleterious effects of the severe salinity. In particular, we opted for prefabricated reinforced concrete panels typically used for the construction of viaducts and bunkers.” Another important decision was the choice of surface coverings, for which the owner and Barbalonga opted for tuff, Custonaci pearl marble and above all Marazzi’s SistemA slab collection. “Collaboration with the Sassuolo-based company was exceptional, a truly memorable experience from both a technical and personal perspective. For them, too, it was a new experience as they had never before supplied and installed SistemA in a private villa.” SistemA, a crystallised porcelain stoneware chosen here in the natural white finish and 60×60 cm size, was used for all the indoor and outdoor floors (1,800 square metres, including the bathroom with a ?mosaic cut’ solution and special laser-cut pieces for the custom-designed poolside drainage channels). “We chose this exceptional product not just for its aesthetic qualities, which enable it to integrate perfectly into the surrounding landscape, but also for its technical characteristics of durability, anti-slip properties and above all its resistance to the severe atmospheric agents,” explained the owner. The villa has many other unique architectural, decorative and technological features, which the client is proud to show off. “I like to display the garden of native plants and a series of artistic ceramic panels created by De Simone. Originally used on floors, they have now been lovingly restored and adorn the walls of the house and even the top of the outdoor dining table. Then there are the extremely comfortable indoor and outdoor areas where we spend most of the day, as well as two gazebos with Corian-coated canopies, another Italian first designed in collaboration with the Dupont group which adds a sense of cool freshness to the outer shell of the villa. The lighting consists entirely of LEDs, with RGB colour modulation for the exteriors that adds a touch of colour to the house in the evenings. There’s a large 18th century door, an enormous rudder from a late 19th century schooner, a large steel fireplace custom built by Palazzetti and an outdoor kitchen that I designed myself with a 1.2 metre long grill, essential for lunches and dinners (we have a marvellous chef) with friends we love to meet up with and exchange visits as a kind of pilgrimage…”. The electrical, air conditioning and other utility systems and (“700 km of cables: incredible but true!”) were buried completely underground both for aesthetic reasons and to avoid damage from sea salt. “Even the electrical boxes were recessed into the walls and lined with tuff to protect them,” concludes the owner. “And inside the house everything is automated, starting out with the temperature set to 22°C. This villa is a special gift to ourselves and is somewhere we really enjoy living. When we’re here we never want to leave!”

Tiles
Marazzi, SistemA
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
60x60cm
Colours
white
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,05
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): > 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9-R10
Certifications and awards
LEED
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