“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” It is with this quote borrowed from Austrian composer Gustav Mahler that architect Marco Ardielli, co-founder of Ardielli Fornasa Associati, explains his latest project for a single-family home built on the edge of the Laghetto del Frassino nature reserve in Peschiera Borromeo in the province of Verona.
“Villa T, as it is called, is inspired by the identity of the local building tradition, in other words by the fire,” says the architect. “But the project goes further than that, beyond the ashes, embracing the innovative potential of modernity in pursuit of an ideal marriage of history and technology.”
Villa T’s return to its origins has resulted in an elementary, almost iconic architectural form, that of the archetypal house with its classic double-pitched roof and facing brick walls. “First and foremost, we wanted to focus on simplicity,” Ardielli explains. “The site allocated to the project was a fairly complex and heterogeneous residential plot in terms of both its urban layout and architectural solutions. The choice of a geometrically linear volume – a monolithic clay brick structure – gave more space to the context without clashing with the existing buildings.”
Moreover, the house is simple not just in terms of its form and typology, but also in terms of its layout. “You can’t get lost in this house,” says Ardielli with a smile. “Every room is perfectly recognisable, airy and permeable.” Entry is via an attractive walkway leading to a long corridor, which in turn frames the landscape viewed from the living room like a telescope. The living area is a large double-height open-plan space consisting of the kitchen, dining room and conversation area. A staircase leads to the children’s bedrooms, while the parents’ bedroom is on the ground floor. Finally, the basement volume illuminated by an internal courtyard garden is dedicated to family relaxation and features a gym, sauna and TV room, as well as the laundry and technical rooms.
But the “fire” of tradition is revealed above all in the choice of materials. The building’s compact form is enhanced by a continuous facing brick cladding which also extends onto the double-pitched roof. The result is a brick monolith which revives the use of clay as a traditional local building material (an artistic brick from Terreal Italia brand SanMarco, which was custom-designed by the architect for certain areas of the façades and handmade at the brick factory located in Noale, in the province of Venice). At the same time, it challenges conventional building practices by adopting clay tiles on the roof as a result of cutting-edge technology (in this case the Cotto³ cladding system, again by the Terreal Italia brand SanMarco and consisting of a combination of three different shells: thermal, structural and clay).
Just like brick, ceramic tile also helps to forge a simple and durable architectural identity. Porcelain stoneware is used as the main surface covering material not just inside the building but also on the outside and in the wellness area. Thanks to its multifunctional characteristics, ceramic tile can be adapted to any location and function and comes in a wide range of sizes (including extra-large) and colours matched with different materials and textures (in this case the Ceramica Sant’Agostino collections Highstone, Revstone, Set, Shadestone, Metrochic, Pure Marble, Tipos and Marmocrea).
“The choice of just two materials – ceramic tile and brick – simplifies the project, rooting it in tradition while at the same time keeping it firmly anchored to the contemporary world,” notes the architect. “Because new ideas must always be linked to their period and context.”
This concept earned Villa T the award for the best residential building in the Ceramics and Design architecture competition promoted by Cersaie and the Italian ceramic industry.
Ceramica Sant'Agostino: Venato, Revstone, Spider, Highstone, Set Concrete, Shadestone, Tipos, Metropaper
25x75, 60x90, 60x120, 60x150, 90x90 cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): conforme
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): conforme
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): conforme
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): conforme
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): conforme
San Marco (Terreal Italia)
Cotto³ cladding system
+ artistic brick