(Na3 Studio di Architettura)
“In interior architecture, situations never repeat themselves: as cities and neighbourhoods change, so too do people, needs, expectations and budgets. And yet the design process remains the same, starting out from an overall vision of the city and then reducing the scope to that of the individual neighbourhood and its inhabitants, all the while taking account of needs and expectations and keeping to budgets.” Likewise, the design process followed by the architects who carried through the apartment renovation project discussed in this article, the Rome-based practice Na3, began with a consideration of the city of Rome as a whole, then focused on the specific context, that of the EUR district, and designed the building with the needs of the clients in mind.
Distributed over two levels consisting of a loft and a penthouse with an internal floor space of around 150 sq.m and an exterior area of 100 sq.m, the apartment – along with the rest of the building – was originally designed in the early 1950s by architect Claudio Dall’Olio.
“The guiding principle of the project was to keep the layout as close as possible to that of the original building while striving to establish a contemporary aesthetic that would dialogue with the EUR neighbourhood and its history. This was achieved by making a number of careful design choices and exploiting a series of contrasting materials and styles,” explained architect Nicola Auciello from the Rome-based practice. “The result was a synergic relationship between past and present, interior and exterior, voids and solids, concave and convex elements, straight and curved geometries, details in light and shadow, and expanding and contracting surfaces.”
The spatial organisation of the apartment, a middle-class style duplex, lacked functionality as a result of superfluous elements that had been added over the course of time. The new project therefore chose to reorganise the spaces and completely opened up the entrance area to the living and sleeping areas. The dialogue between past and present is evident as soon as one steps over the threshold, emphasised in particular by three elements. The first is the original architectural staircase dating from the 1950s, which was maintained and rendered contemporary by the installation of a glossy white metal handrail and a base strip in a pastel turquoise colour typical of the period. Secondly, the original upholstered wardrobe in the entrance hall was closed off in the lower section to make room for a firewood storage area accessible from the kitchen. And thirdly the recessed closet, likewise from the 1950s, was moved to a new position at the end of the corridor opposite the fireplace.
One inventive design feature is the installation of porcelain tile cut to size onsite. “To establish a dialogue with the local neighbourhood, tiles (Mutina, Pico series, UP type and DOWN type, Editor’s note) are used in all areas of the house that communicate with the outside environment, namely the entrance hall, the fireplace, the floor next to the windows, the bathrooms and kitchen and corresponding steps, and the terraces. Stepping inside the entrance, one encounters a tiled carpet that extends as a continuation of the stairway, then bends upwards at right angles to form a seat. Porcelain is also used as an exterior connecting element on the walls and floors below the window in the living room, which is divided into three areas that contract towards the central section and expand at the ends. Porcelain is also used on the fireplace to underscore the fact that it communicates with the exterior. Asymmetric, it faces onto both the living room and kitchen, which is separated from the corridor by a retractable clear glass door so that the fire is always visible from any of the rooms. All of this is combined with a burned oak floor with three different skirting finishes according to the room and the requirements: flush matt white almost everywhere, pastel turquoise as detailing on the stairway, and glossy coving by the retracting doors. Spatial interaction is an essential design element, creating a sense of balance, integration and modernity, while the surfaces are used as a means of communication. The concave and convex porcelain surface coverings are a tactile material that expresses identity and combines history and culture while integrating with the views of the splendid works of architecture outside.”
Mutina, Pico series, UP and DOWN
30x30 - 60x60 - 60x120 - 120x120 cm
Beige, Blanc, Terre, Dots
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,06%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 61,2 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R11
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant