Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Piccola Londra in Rome, Italy by NOS Design
March 25th, 2018 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: NOS Design
The initial inspiration for the project which deals with the conservation of an existing building has been to enhance its architectural heritage. The architectural elements and decorations reveal its own history, in combination with the creative hand of the Architect. This is the ambition and the challenge that guided Architect Benedetta Gargiulo Morelli, along with her studio NOS Design, in the recovery and expansion project for the villa of “Piccola Londra”.
It is named “Piccola Londra” (Little London) for the series of English-style villas formerly designed by the experimental urbanist Eng. Quadrio Pirani (1878-1970). In 1909, Pirani proposed a new urban typology for Rome and with the support of the mayor Ernesto Nathan it had been implemented. The site is located between Via Flaminia and Via del Vignola in the heart of Rome.
Despite the natural and forced degradation the building has suffered, “Piccola Londra” has maintained a strong historical identity allowing it to become part of the collective imagination of the Roman people.
The project for “Piccola Londra” Guest Mansion has been designed to reconstruct the villa’s original style and elegant character. Infact, most of the adjacent villas have lost this due to the many transformations, super-elevations and degradation. Furthermore, the elevation of the second floor broke the unifying nature of the building with its twin villa.
Before the works, the building had several issues to be solved: most of the rooms were underutilized or poorly preserved. The basement consisted of a large empty room and an out of service toilet. The mezzanine entailed two damp and unhealthy spaces. The second floor presented a kitchen with no dining area and a small terrace in front of it, which was the only means of access to the additional run-down terrace on the upper floor. Furthermore the garden on the ground floor, already penalized by the position in the backyard, was overgrown and inaccessible. How could such poor conditions preserve the initial charm of “Piccola Londra” sophisticated villa?
The project therefore was to eliminate the problems which accumulated over time and to enhance the existing features of the liberty style building. This was achieved by acting on three main points: the external conservation and sophisticated design features in the elevations, new internal distribution of spaces and enhancement of the ground floor garden and second floor rooftop terrace.
The elegance of the elevation has been recovered through the insertion of a liberty-style winter garden which develops on a double height space, enclosing the second floor terrace and a portion of the rooftop terrace. The glasshouse structure consists of metal profiles and low emission glass panels. It is fully glazed and may be obscured by shading devices placed in the interior skin. Access to the rooftop has been maintained by the original renovated steel liberty staircase and incorporated within the greenhouse.
The designed texture of the metal profiles enhance the verticality of the building and slender it. The glass partitions are specifically aligned with the existing openings of the below levels to keep its original outline. The horizontal profiles are also arranged in correspondence of the frames and the elements to ensure continuity between the neighbouring buildings.
Even the choice of using a single color (ocher) both for the facades, the fixtures and the greenhouse follows the logical path of creating a recognizable object giving a feeling of unity.
The redefinition of the interior layout was achieved through the creation of functional blocks strategically placed on each level. The basement has been dedicated to the dining and kitchen area, the ground floor to the living area and upper two levels to the evening space. The mezzanine level, which is much less representative, is dedicated to the laundry and utility spaces.
From the entrance of the house, the new hall becomes a spectrum of colors and lights. The fully renovated kitchen has been expanded and opened to the new dining area. The careful choice of colors and furniture gives new life to all walk through areas, as well as to the new bedrooms, each with its ensuite facilities. The care and attention to detail transfer a unique character to every room.
Last but not least, the garden on the ground floor has been redesigned: the green areas have been moved to the edges in order to give rise to a central seating area. Annexing the garden to the living area and dining areas centers everything to make this space the heart of the building. Combining the selection of vivid color deco-style furniture, checker granite tiles and ornamental exotic plants, make it the ideal setting for lunches or the quite outdoor reading space.
The same approach has been used for the design of the rooftop terrace, where vegetation is placed in specific deco style planters and the same checked flooring has been used throughout.
The new perfectly integrated look, together with the internal distribution operations, along with the chosen furnishings and colors, give rise to a renewed identity of the villa. Piccola Londra guest mansion has now become an icon of a successful conservation contemporary project and stands out with its elegance from its neighbors twin villa.
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