INTO THE BLUE

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Contents -

An iconic house in the Swiss hills has been re­born as 21st cen­tury res­i­dence for a fam­ily of four

the Ital­ian word ‘roc­cia’ means ‘rock’ in English, and as you walk through the con­crete rooms of this villa, its name feels fit­ting. Con­crete walls open to con­crete stairs that lead up­wards from the en­trance. To the left, a bal­cony that in other hands might open to a panoramic view of the lake, in­stead con­fronts a sheer, craggy cliff face of mossy rock and deep green creep­ing ten­drils. The house has been built to com­mune with the sur­round­ing na­ture; in places, the struc­ture is inches away from the pri­mal earth that juts up around it. “At first, the prox­im­ity of the rock might seem threat­en­ing,” ex­plains Chiara Costacurta, the lady of the house. “In fact, it com­mu­ni­cates pos­i­tive en­ergy and a sense of well-be­ing.” The de­ci­sion to de­vote large glass win­dows to the rock rather than to hide it be­hind walls is a strongly con­cep­tual ap­proach; a re­la­tion­ship with ge­og­ra­phy and to­pog­ra­phy is typ­i­cal of the Ti­cino school of Ar­chi­tec­ture, of which Villa Roc­cia’s ar­chi­tect Mario Campi was an af­fil­i­ate.

As Campi achieved fame, he was ap­proached by the pain­ter Fe­lice Filip­pini in the late Six­ties to cre­ate a light-filled space in which he might live and paint. This re­sult­ing north-ori­ented struc­ture is a prime ex­am­ple of Campi’s ver­nac­u­lar – cre­at­ing an in­ex­tri­ca­ble dis­course be­tween his build­ings and their con­tex­tual el­e­ments.

The house was later ac­quired by the Bul­gar­ian mu­si­cian Alexis Weis­sem­berg, once de­scribed by Aus­trian con­duc­tor Her­bert von Kara­janas as ‘one of the great­est pi­anists of our time’. Un­for­tu­nately his ar­chi­tec­tural tastes were not in sync with the bor­der­line Bru­tal­ist aes­thetic of Villa Roc­cia, and many of the orig­i­nal in­te­rior el­e­ments were al­tered or cov­ered up.

When they ac­quired the house a few years ago, Costacurta and her hus­band François Droulers sought to ren­o­vate with re­spect to the ar­chi­tect’s orig­i­nal in­ten­tion. “We worked to­gether with an ex­tremely com­pe­tent team: the heirs of the Campi stu­dio,” ex­plains Droulers. “They re­tained the orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings, so we were able to re­verse and re­store the al­ter­ations, and make sym­pa­thetic ad­di­tions.” The house was orig­i­nally built as a more mod­est home, but has now been ex­panded to add ex­tra bed­rooms and a pool. “For forty years, the house has been in­hab­ited by two sin­gle peo­ple,” says Droulers. “Now there’s space for a fam­ily with four chil­dren.”

With a ceil­ing height of over six­teen feet, the first floor liv­ing room fea­tures green wood-pan­elled walls and a resin floor. This for­mer artist’s stu­dio is bathed in a bright, fresh light, and fix­tures, fit­tings and fur­ni­ture are mostly be­spoke with select pieces by some of the most cel­e­brated Ital­ian de­sign­ers of the era. “The in­te­ri­ors are all by Droulers Stu­dio,” ex­plains Costacurta. “Namely François’ sis­ters Nathalie and Vir­ginie.” The large cor­ner sofa, cus­tom made by the sis­ters, wraps around the perime­ter of two walls, and a Mies van der Rohe day beds sit next to a 1960s desk with vin­tage lamps. The con­crete cof­fered ceil­ings that soar over­head are breath­tak­ing in their in­dus­tri­ally dec­o­ra­tive ge­om­e­try.

Past the kitchen and the din­ing area that sports a trans­par­ent Gal­lotti & Radice ta­ble with chairs de­signed by Jean Prouvé, more stairs lead up to the fi­nal floor where a master bed­room pop­u­lated with vin­tage Ital­ian fur­ni­ture joins a master bath­room that looks across to a glass rooftop green­house. Both the rooms fea­ture the dis­tinc­tive cof­fered ceil­ings and con­crete walls, but ad­di­tions of dark Ital­ian wal­nut pan­els in the bed­room and lighter pear wood in the bath­room add warmth. “With the in­te­ri­ors we’ve tried to main­tain a strong sense of the ma­te­ri­al­ity,” says Nathalie Droulers. “In­stead of be­ing struck by em­bel­lish­ments or dec­o­ra­tive de­tails, the sense you get is of na­ture.”

“The house was built for a sin­gle per­son. Now there’s space for a fam­ily with four chil­dren”

“The prox­im­ity of the rock might seem threat­en­ing, but it trans­mits pos­i­tive en­ergy”

“In­stead of be­ing struck by dec­o­ra­tive de­tails, you get a sense of na­ture”

LADY OF THE HOUSE CHIARA COSTACURTA LOOKS OUT FROM THE TER­RACE TO LAKE LUGANOOP­PO­SITE: AN ART­WORK BY EMILIO VEDOVA IS FLANKED BY PAIR OF VIN­TAGE LAMPS IN THE SIT­TING ROOM

LEFT: FRANÇOIS DROULERS AND CHIARA COSTACURTA RE­CLINE ON A BARCELONA DAY BED BY MIES VAN DER ROHE FOR KNOLL. THE COLOUR­FUL SCULP­TURE IS BY PINO URBANO

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: THE GLAZED NORTH FA­CADE OF THE VILLA LOOKS OUT TO A WA­TER BASIN; THE DIN­INGTA­BLE BY GAL­LOTTI & RADICE IS PAIRED WITH JEANPROUVÉ CHAIRS. THE SUS­PEN­SION LAMPS ARE FROM DCW EDI­TIONS; A VIEW FROM THE BATH­ROOM INTOTHE GREEN­HOUSE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.