Lunch in a former lemon-house
Natalia Boccato, Giovanni Colmegna
The transformation of customs and traditions in today’s cities is frequently leading to the conversion of spaces and buildings that previously served other purposes and are now being adapted to contemporary applications. Such projects increasingly concern former lemon-houses (also known as «orangeries», in French) — greenhouses or sometimes enclosed spaces annexed to villas that were used to house citrus and other ornamental or fruit trees during the winter. A number of remodelling and conversion projects in Italy have recently involved these buildings, which are particularly suited to the hospitality sector due to their versatility and appeal and their connections with the outdoor gardens. One such example is the former lemon-house in Villa Crivelli, a late eighteenth century building located near the historic centre of the town of Rovellasca (province of Como). The building, abandoned for years and lacking a specific use, was at risk of falling into total disrepair when it underwent radical remodelling work and was converted for use as a restaurant. The lemon-house underwent a long and meticulous restoration project that lasted for four years and was completed in April 2005, in which architect Natalia Boccato redesigned the original structure and added a new volume. The conversion to a restaurant involved organising the approximately 200 square metre garden as an open-air hospitality space during the spring and autumn and creating three rooms with different uses and capacities whose names reflect their previous uses. The lemon-house consisted of two wings, one used as a winter shelter for potted plants, while the other smaller one was used for storing garden tools. The «Lemon Room» in the original lemon-house, is now mainly used for ceremonies and can accommodate up to 170 guests, while the «Orange Room», the former storeroom, has a maximum capacity of 80 guests. Another more intimate and private room, known as the «Red Room», was constructed in the building’s attic.
The perfectly symmetrical main building contains a sequence of rooms with a vaulted ceiling that reaches a height of around six metres at its uppermost point. Between the lemon-house and the historic perimeter wall on Via Volta there was also an old warehouse, which was demolished and rebuilt using local materials in accordance with its typological characteristics to house the services, the kitchen and the restaurant bar near the street entrance. The project sought to maintain the maximum respect for the original structure and to use building materials that were consistent with those of the period. This philosophy also inspired the choice of the new internal floor covering, the Terrae de Tarsina collection from Tagina Ceramiche d’Arte in the Categge colour. The terracotta colours, the rustic properties and the aesthetic characteristics inspired by meticulous craftsmanship define the walking surface, consisting of modules of various sizes enhanced with spiral foliage decorations that create a border strip running around the perimeter of the rooms.
Tagina Ceramiche d'Arte, Terrae de Tarsina series
35x35 - 8,37x35 - 17,25x17,25 - 17,25x35 cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <0,2%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): PEI IV - PER III
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35.54 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): DRY 0,78 - 0,85 / WET 0,51 - 0,62
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant