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