House Cicaleto, Cannara

Collemancio, Cannara, Italy, Cannara, Italy

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About the project

Overlooking a forested Umbrian Valley, House Cicaleto, Cannara was a renovation project by Nico Van der Meulen Architects. A 12th-century watchtower was extended and reformed to create a dwelling set among the rolling olive groves.

Due to the sensitivity of both its position (within 700m from Roman ruins and 10km from Assisi) and the age of the structure, the approval, planning and commission process lasted nearly three years with the firm and curated conditions applied by the authorities in executing the proposal. Additions were allowed, albeit the bare minimum.

This, however, offered the designers an opportunity to create a light and open connection between the two existing buildings, which would encapsulate a portion of the new kitchen, leading out to the addition of a lanai and triple rim-flow swimming pool. These additions were sensitive and mindful of the layered histories of the context.

The kitchen or access link was a simple contemporary, flat-roof structure under a glass roof.  A steel staircase was inserted into this void, creating a physical relationship between the ground floor living areas and the first floor where the main suite, study and painter’s studio are located.

The original watchtower-turned-farm dwelling was quite traditional in its functionality and purpose; typically regional in its understanding of farming requirements in rural Italy. Stables and other farming facilities were located on the ground floor, along with hay storage located on a mezzanine level, while living quarters were located on the upper level.

The fabric and texture of the home are contextual and biographical. Stone, as the primary material for construction and finishing, needed to be enhanced and celebrated. The existing stonework was meticulously re-established on the exterior and interiors. All new stone used for finishing and structural work was found within the immediate context, establishing the sense of place. Timber trusses and beams were repurposed and recycled (some of these centuries old).

The predominant base of stone is offset and enhanced with light shades of wood, black steel and raw concrete. The contemporary furniture and fittings were sourced from International brands. Light-toned resin flooring provides a subtle base with off-shutter concrete, rough sawn hardwood and restored oak beams. Doors were manufactured from recycled oak beams, detailed with steel handles.

The new sophisticated steel fireplace was crafted specifically for this space, while the staircase was covered in lacquered hot-rolled steel sheets by local craftsmen. The quality of steelwork is on par with the work of stonemasons. This material and quality of work are evident throughout the interiors.

The dining room is graced by a Regardt van der Meulen sculpture titled “Weathered” –  it is quite apt in its placement and meaning by being present in a house that has undergone some weathering before being re-established as a beautiful work of art. A historic brick arch divides the new dressing room and main bathroom where a mix of high-end fittings, black steel and recycled wood was used against the old stone walls.

This project was an exercise in respect, patience and understanding of place and history, creating a sense of a new place through the legacy of the old. The home represents a unique amalgamated character, richly-veined with history and novelty, becoming a beautiful and well-considered home in the Umbrian countryside.

B&B Italia, Molteni & C, Ciacci,Kristalia, Magis, Gloster, Fantoni, Lightyears, Rexa, Doca Republic of Fritz Hansen

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4,844 sq-ft.





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