Projects

Private house - Sorni di Lavis (Trento)

Glass + ceramic = a perfect match

An architect's studio offered an opportunity to experiment with forms and materials in perfect harmony with nature.
Author
Laura Ragazzola
Photos
Luciano Busani
Architect
Dennis Pisoni
Surfaces
COEM
Distributor
Ceramicarte
Year of completion
2009

Built in a small residential centre amongst the vineyards of the Rotaliana plain near Trento, this house is home to the studio of architect Dennis Pisoni.
From the very start, the project had to address the unique morphological nature of the site, in particular a slope of nearly 45 degrees, and close contact with other residential buildings.
Excavated partially below ground level to compensate for the steep slope, part of the building is windowless. The design challenge was to bring light inside by making extensive use of glass panels in all the above-ground walls.
Looking at the house one has the impression of almost total transparency, interrupted by the skilful play of ceramic tile-clad solid walls.
The form is compact – a kind of cube “perforated” by windows – but lightened up by the balconies that are staggered with respect to the two levels of the house (there is also a ground floor used as a garage).
The top floor houses the architect’s studio and the meeting room, while the lower floor is devoted to the technical room (plotters, printers, photocopiers, etc.) and the workstations of employees, strictly facing towards the main facade. The concept behind the project was to foster a dialogue with nature, opening the house up to the outside world by means of large windows. As the designer explained, “even – and especially – a workplace can enjoy great benefits if it exploits the available light and the surrounding landscape”.
But the harmonious relationship with the natural location is further emphasised by the choice of material that covers the building: the T.U. porcelain tile series from Ceramics Coem, which, like a tailored suit, covers the entire volume of the office block.
The architect explained: “Ceramic tile has always been seen as a material for covering floors or at the most bathroom walls. Instead I believe in new aesthetic horizons and applications for porcelain tile, as my project demonstrates.
“The series T.U. seemed to me to be the ideal choice, in perfect harmony with glass, given that it offers size and colour solutions that are both aesthetically elegant and functionally resourceful. For example, it has great weather resistance, an essential characteristic for a building like the one I designed which lacks an overhanging roof,” the architect continued.
“It also has good frost and abrasion resistance along with ease of maintenance.”
But that’s not all. The low index of refraction of light of the porcelain body also ensures the maximum thermal efficiency and outstanding energy performance, characteristics that fit in perfectly with the formal and style cues of this ecologically-friendly project. Moreover, this porcelain tile stands out for the fact that it is made with a high content of recycled material and waste water.
Likewise inside the building, ceramic and glass are used in a highly successful combination. A wall of glass serves as a transparent balustrade on the staircase linking the two levels, in turn anchored to a wall covered with the same porcelain tile that is used on the exterior. The only exception is the inclusion of 60×10 cm white ceramic strips that run the entire length of the wall. Due to the absence of dividing walls, the light entering through the large windows is able to diffuse evenly through the blind part of the building, the section set inside the sloping terrain. The pale colour of the walls and ceilings enhances the brightness of the rooms, while the light and dark metal effect of the floor tiles breaks up what would otherwise be an excessively uniform block of colour. Ceramic tiles also enjoy pride of place in the bathroom, creating a variety of textures on the walls. Strip mirrors run along the walls to give maximum airiness to the overall result.

Tiles
Ceramiche Coem, T.U. (Tinte Unite) series
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
30x60, decoro XS
Colours
Warm White
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤175 mm3
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
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