Parallel rows of orchards, furrows and fences in the Italian plain of Forli influence the shape, style and direction of this classic country house.
Esse house in Forli, Italy has an enviably idyllic location: a sunny terrain surrounded by 15,000 sq. m. of walnut orchards and vineyards. Owned by the Director of a winery and home to his two sons, wife and aged mother, this 285 sq. m. country house embraces light, nature and everything else that is glorious about Italian country living.
Rebuilt in 2012 to remedy structural faults in the earlier construction, the new house balances classic and contemporary architecture with an unassuming ease. Credit for this goes entirely to Ellevuelle – an Italian architectural firm which envisaged a house that blended in with the environment without disturbing or overpowering the natural aesthetic.
“The client wanted to retain the classic values of a country house while adding context by introducing dialogue with the landscape,” reveal the architects.
Giorgio Liverani, Luca Landi and Michele Vasumini – partners at Ellevuelle further explain, “Conventional country houses in Forli have two floors with pitched roofs and plastered walls, though in the case of Esse, we deliberately maintained a single floor to reduce its visual impact and to allow the tops of the trees to emerge on the plain.”
From a top view, the landscape of Forli unravels in neatly combed tracks that run parallel to each other and which bring order to the innumerable orchard trees and vineyards in this fertile plain. These century-old man-made tracks form a distinct natural artistic visual which incidentally provided the basic inspiration for the design of Esse house.
Referring to the linear structure of the house, the architects say, “The project area is marked by the presence of walnut woods, furrows and rows of vines; all these elements identify with a predominantly linear formation. The architecture fits into this linear scheme perfectly without creating a ripple. Two thick stone-clad walls become the margins within which the one-floor house is built.”
The compact house, lodged between two stone walls is divided into two sections: the larger portion for the owner and his family and the smaller one for his mother. Ceiling-to-floor glass doors at either ends invite light into the living areas and offer telescopic views of the orchards. In addition, a number of openings in the stone walls allow the outdoors to penetrate within.
Recognising the fact that the human body’s dependence on sunlight for both warmth and illumination is so vital for mental and physical well-being, despite the presence of innumerable openings leading into the orchards, effort was made to trap even more light in to the house through an inner glass-walled courtyard attached to the master bedroom. The effect is positively brilliant and challenges conventional notions about the use or location of courtyards.
Classic elements of country style like stone-tiled floors and walnut and oak wood are adopted to balance the contemporary layout of the house.
The coated stone flooring runs constant in all the rooms and even overflows into the bathtub adding a welcome rustic touch that contrasts well with sleek, modern fixtures. The use of Corten steel door frames too is a welcome addition as it sits in perfect harmony with the stone and walnut.
While the orientation of the house takes its cue from the natural surroundings, the chosen direction is also conducive to hosting solar panels on the roof for hot water and electricity. For the residents of Esse house who are clearly nature lovers, Ellevuelle has designed a space that acknowledges a deep respect and appreciation for nature and demonstrates ways in which one can not only live comfortably, but also in complete harmony with one’s surroundings.
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Courtesy Alvise Raimondi