Vine­yard view

Italian ar­chi­tect Duilio Dami­lano has cre­ated Villa Geef, a con­tem­po­rary min­i­mal­ist res­i­dence in Son­drio, Italy.


Nes­tled in the Italian coun­try­side is a home that cap­tures the soul as much as the spirit of con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture. De­signed by Mi­lan-based ar­chi­tect Duilio Dami­lano, Villa Geef’s sleek, poised dis­po­si­tion con­ceals the in­tri­cate chore­og­ra­phy of in­tel­lect, pas­sion and vi­sion nec­es­sary for its cre­ation.

The 750 m2home deeply re­flects the ar­chi­tect’s per­sonal ap­proach. “Our de­sign phi­los­o­phy is rooted in re­spect for the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment, the con­tain­ment of en­ergy con­sump­tion and the use of en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly ma­te­ri­als. Over the years our at­ten­tion to this has grown. Our phi­los­o­phy is in­flu­enced by the de­con­struc­tivists of the 1980s, with our spa­tial re­search, min­i­mal­ism and or­ganic ar­chi­tec­ture.”

Dami­lano’s de­sign was in­spired by the lush land­scape. The area was ini­tially used as a recre­ational space, but he saw po­ten­tial due to its size and the sur­round­ing moun­tain land­scape, which holds the vine­yards of Val­tel­lina.

“[Its] min­i­mal­ism is in the pu­rity of its lines, and its or­ganic style lies in the choice of ma­te­ri­als. The project was in­spired by the moun­tain re­gion of Son­drio, cul­ti­vated with ter­raced vine­yards,” he ex­plains.

Dami­lano was in­spired by his fa­ther and brother, who are both pas­sion­ate sculp­tors; his mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary firm opened in 1990 and fo­cuses on ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign, with projects in­clud­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices, res­i­den­tial build­ings and re­tail spa­ces in Italy and abroad.

In ad­di­tion to participating in the Italian Pav­il­ion at the 13th Venice Bi­en­nale of Ar­chi­tec­ture and at a se­ries of in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions, his Ofic­ina Vidre Ne­gre project (a stun­ning sculp­tural en­ergy-ef­fi­cient of­fice build­ing) was se­lected for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2013.

Work­ing on na­tional and in­ter­na­tional projects, Dami­lano’s con­tin­u­ous re­search is car­ried out with sen­si­tiv­ity to de­sign, con­tem­po­rary cul­ture and ur­ban and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments. His three most im­por­tant projects in his ca­reer thus far in­clude Ofic­ina Vidre Ne­gre, Ga­zo­line Petrol Sta­tion and F5.

Dami­lano’s client was acutely aware of his phi­los­o­phy and port­fo­lio, and had ab­so­lute trust in his process. “They were only in­volved in the process in terms of liv­ing needs. The buyer sought us out be­cause he knew our pub­lished works and loved the min­i­mal­ist ar­chi­tec­ture. We led them from a se­vere style of

min­i­mal­ism to one that’s in com­mu­nion with a more or­ganic lan­guage,” he ex­plains.

In fact, this was the main chal­lenge: “It was the idea of cre­at­ing a hor­i­zon­tal build­ing with­out pre­clud­ing the sur­round­ing land­scape both from the out­side and from the in­side,” he con­tin­ues.

The re­sult was a villa on a sin­gle ground floor that boasts both com­fort and a dy­namic re­la­tion­ship with the land­scape. As a one-floor res­i­dence, one’s eyes are al­ways open to the vine­yards and the pri­vate park. Or­gan­ised in two dif­fer­ent ar­eas, they are joined by the cov­ered porch that’s in line with ac­cess to the lot. On the one side is the garage and the space for the guests; on the other side is the own­ers’ res­i­dence.

“Trans­parency is the main ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign fea­ture,” says Dami­lano. But coloura­tion, shadow and light – as well as ma­te­ri­al­ity and tex­ture – also play key roles: “Dark­ness and light are im­por­tant, as shad­ows de­fine spa­ces (Ál­varo Siza is a great ex­am­ple). An­other fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment is push­ing the five senses. That’s why we pay close at­ten­tion to ol­fac­tory plant essences, dark and light chro­matic ef­fects, and sur­face ma­te­ri­als. In this project, the dry stone was very im­por­tant.”

Each space is out­fit­ted with top-tier fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories from Flos, Ingo Mau­rer, Cassina, B&B Italia, Gesso, Edra, Ri­made­sio and many oth­ers.

His favourite space in the home re­flects how it em­braces out­door liv­ing. “I like the liv­ing room-din­ing room and out­door area, be­cause of how they are in prox­im­ity to each other,” says Dami­lano.

But the de­tails are what truly make the villa special. In ad­di­tion to be­ing proud of the prop­erty’s self-suf­fi­ciency from an en­ergy point-of-view, with low con­sump­tion, the ar­chi­tect is es­pe­cially fond of its ex­te­rior el­e­ments.

“There are many im­por­tant out­side el­e­ments, such as the dry­wall and the rocks that fit into the side­walk; as well as in­te­rior el­e­ments, such as the teak wood coun­ter­top. The project over­all has paid a lot of at­ten­tion to in­te­rior tech­ni­cal de­tails as well, such as fold­ing win­dows and hid­den ven­ti­la­tion,” he says.

Dami­lano’s plans are ex­pan­sive. “I don’t know what the fu­ture will bring,” he muses. “We hope to con­tinue in this di­rec­tion. Cur­rently we are en­gaged in cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent vil­las that are char­ac­terised by the spe­cific el­e­ments of their en­vi­ron­ment.” We look for­ward to watch­ing him de­velop his inim­itable style.

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