The beauty of building techniques past and present
Maria Giulia Zunino
Pecetto Torinese is a village located in the hills to the southeast of Turin that enjoys such a mild climate that it is famous for its cherries. Just 13 km from Turin’s Porta Nuova station, it is an integral part of the city’s metropolitan area and an increasingly popular residential location.
Architects Federica Cortina and Riccardo Cottino founded a practice here in 2013 and gave it the name Sferico Architetti, an acronym formed from the first two letters of their names plus an initial «s» to create the Italian word for «spherical». The name alludes to the perfect shape of the sphere and at the same time, considering their backgrounds, perhaps also refers to the globe, the circularity of thought processes and knowledge, the thrill and curiosity of travel, and the sense of personal enrichment that comes from encountering different cultures. After graduating in Turin, Federica continued her studies at Tshingua University in Beijing, focusing in particular on a redevelopment project for a vast industrial area. This project became the subject of her degree thesis and led to exhibitions held both in Italy and in China. Riccardo graduated in Buenos Aires after studying at Turin Polytechnic, then practised at several different firms in Italy and Switzerland where he gained familiarity with new construction technologies.
One of the projects carried out by Sferico Architetti is «Casa OM», the renovation of a mid-nineteenth century house in the old town centre of Pecetto. The design brief was to adapt the home to the needs of contemporary living in terms of both its architecture (by remodelling the structure, utilities and internal redistribution) and energy (by installing thermally insulated windows, a mechanical ventilation system and photovoltaic and solar panels).
The envelope was entirely insulated on the inside so as not to impair the aesthetics of the façades, where the plaster was removed to reveal all the charm of the original building techniques. In particular, the composition of stone and bricks creates a regular pattern interrupted by the brick vaults that serve as architraves while framing the doors and windows.
The upgrading work on the existing building was not limited to the exterior but is also evident inside the basement vaults, which display splendid herringbone pattern brickwork. In this article we focus in particular on one of the apartments, which extends over three levels: living room downstairs; kitchen, dining room and half bathroom on the ground floor; 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathroom and an exposed beam ceiling on the upper floor.
The abundance of natural light flooding in through the glazed portion of the ceiling, the lightweight, aerial aesthetic of the iron staircase, the informal furniture and the elegance of the vault are all factors that help create a welcoming space with a strong personality. All of this is emphasised by the plaster look of the floor consisting of large porcelain slabs from ABK’s Crossroad Chalk collection — as though the plaster had simply been transposed from the façades. Chosen with the specific intent of creating a sense of visual continuity between the floor and wall, the collection reproduces the grainy texture and graphics of plaster, using digital decoration to create a three-dimensional effect of light and shadow.
ABK Crossroad Chalk
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,3%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): GA / GLA
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 45 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 CLASSE A+B
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant