New rad­i­cal

De­signed in the late 1960s and re­cently up­dated, Villa Roc­cia has an ex­per­i­men­tal spirit that re­mains to­tally con­tem­po­rary

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This up­dated 1960s Swiss house has an ex­per­i­men­tal spirit that’s to­tally con­tem­po­rary

Words HANNAH BOOTH Pho­tog­ra­phy HELENIO BARBETTA/LIV­ING IN­SIDE Pro­duc­tion CHIARA DAL CANTO

In 1969, this strik­ing house – with its con­crete-clad, open

plan in­te­rior and vast panes of glass – was con­sid­ered highly rad­i­cal, par­tic­u­larly in con­ser­va­tive Switzer­land. To­day, ex­pertly ex­panded and re­stored, the prop­erty feels just as pro­gres­sive.

The aim, says its owner François Droulers, was to pre­serve its orig­i­nal char­ac­ter and ex­per­i­men­tal na­ture, but also to evolve it for 21st-cen­tury fam­ily life. ‘ We didn’t want a 1960s or 70s-themed house,’ says François, who lives here with his wife Chiara Costacurta and their four chil­dren, Ste­fano, Carola, Leonardo and Del­phine. ‘ We wanted to make the most of its space, height and light, and put our stamp on it.’

Known as Villa Roc­cia ( Rock House), the prop­erty is lo­cated in Muz­zano, on the hills sur­round­ing Lake Lugano in Ital­ian-speak­ing Switzer­land. It was orig­i­nally de­signed by lo­cal ar­chi­tect Mario Campi for the artist Felice Filip­pini, known for his bold, ab­stract paint­ings. Campi, in­spired by Le Cor­bus­ier and Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Carlo Scarpa, dreamed up the build­ing’s open-plan flow, 5.5-me­tre-high liv­ing space (orig­i­nally Filip­pini’s stu­dio), and dra­matic stair­case. The house’s de­sign has a sub­tle sym­me­try – ev­ery di­men­sion, from the size of the win­dows to the rooms, is de­vel­oped in mul­ti­ples of 60 cen­time­tres. ‘It lends the house a cer­tain har­mony,’ says François.

The big­gest change has been the ex­pan­sion of the prop­erty from 500 square me­tres to 800 square me­tres. ‘It had pre­vi­ously been lived in by sin­gle men, but we are a fam­ily of six, so we had to do some “mas­sag­ing” to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­one,’ says François. The house is now di­vided into four ar­eas: François and Chiara’s bed­room and bath­room is on the top floor, which has its own pri­vate grassed ter­race; on the first floor is the liv­ing space, din­ing area and kitchen; and the four bed­rooms for the cou­ple’s chil­dren, along with a pool and sauna, cinema room, and of­fice are on the ground floor. ‘ We wanted ev­ery­one to en­joy the house to­gether, but to have their own pri­vate ar­eas, too,’ ex­plains François.

François’ sis­ter, Nathalie Droulers (from Droulers Ar­chi­tec­ture), re­designed the in­te­rior, in­clud­ing the be­spoke seat­ing and ta­bles. The house is filled with Euro­pean de­sign clas­sics and be­spoke fur­ni­ture, as well as 17th- and 18th-cen­tury an­tiques. The ma­te­ri­als used are widerang­ing: Ital­ian wal­nut, teak, steel win­dow frames, white Ital­ian Stat­u­ario mar­ble, and, of course, ce­ment and con­crete. ‘ We used ma­te­ri­als that were in vogue at the time of con­struc­tion, to keep the feel of the orig­i­nal de­sign,’ says François. droulers-ar­chi­tec­ture.com

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