Form is substance
In the province of Caserta, in the heart of the Agro Aversano, a vast rural area of the ancient Terra di Lavoro, also known as Campania Felix, stands the city of Aversa, the first Norman county in southern Italy, known amongst other things as the birthplace of composer Domenico Cimarosa.
The city is home to Villa Affinito, a complex for which it is far from simple to find an adequate definition. Private residence’ means little and above all does not do justice to the location; house’ is decidedly an understatement; contemporary palace’ is trivial considering that we are just a few kilometres from the magnificent Royal Palace of Caserta! But however we choose to describe it, it is an astonishing building that combines elegance with highly creative solutions.
Designed by architect Giustino Marino, the project for this independent private villa reflects the owner’s personality while combining architectural sensibility and technological practicality with the pragmatism typical of a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
A key element of the project and a precondition imposed by the client was the dialectic between interior and exterior. This dictated the entire distribution of the spaces and gave rise to a series of formal solutions and a powerful sense of continuity between the living spaces and the surrounding greenery. As a result, the natural context takes on an almost architectural role, serving as a prelude and a counterpoint to the building itself and creating a kind of stage setting that emphasises the theatrical quality of the building. The original experimentation with geometries and materials underpinning the entire project creates a dynamic play of transparencies and masses, underscoring the relationship between interiors and exteriors and the role played by the materials: the large windows that allow light to flood into the living space, the wood that mediates and softens the stark geometries, and above all the large ultra-thin porcelain panels that clad the entire exterior envelope, creating precise, durable volumes and emphasising the compositional rigour. Chosen from the Kerlite Elegance collection by Cotto d’Este, in the glass fibre-enhanced Plus version and 40×100 cm size, the panels stand out for their natural, luminous sheen and come in two colours inspired by the pavings of two luxury shopping streets, Via Condotti in Rome and Via Farini in Bologna. When viewed in either daylight or artificial light, the material has a silky sheen with a sense of depth created by precious mineral inclusions in the ceramic body.
The distribution over several levels allows for a clear separation between the living room and the sleeping areas, the first characterised by large, fluid spaces and the second fragmented and organised into rooms with a more intimate and private atmosphere. The interiors stand out for their clean design and neutral tones, the sense of scale emphasised by effective furnishing choices based on the opulence of prestigious contemporary designer lines but without giving in to the temptation to follow fashion at any cost. In the kitchen, for example, the Masters chairs by Philip Starck with all their echoes of design history (Jacobsen, Saarinen, Eames) do not dominate the scene but sit quietly in a space with strict lines where light itself takes centre stage.
This sense of balance owes much to the meticulously chosen technological solutions, which have minimised the visual impact of frames and supports, giving the interior design all the space it needs between the pale coloured floor tiles and the imposing false ceilings.
Cotto d'Este, Kerlite Elegance
Via Condotti, Via Farini
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA-UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 134 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant