Where: Siena, Tuscany
Lying directly on the medieval walls of the village of Belforte, the complex, comprising the main villa, a small outbuilding and the base of the ancient watchtower, juts out over the 180-degree view, signaling its strategic position with the bulky presence of a giant maritime pine tree.
In spite of its precarious condition due to several years of neglect and abandonment, the property retained intact all its great potential arising from its exposure, spectacular view, garden suspended over 500 meters above sea level, like a large panoramic terrace, as well as the structural consistency of a large stone building rising from the walls of the ancient outpost of the Republic of Siena.
Peeking through the cracks in the access gate from the alley, one could glimpse, beyond the wall, a potential “enchanted garden” overwhelmed by brambles.
The ancient medieval tower appeared choked by the overflowing growth of creepers and weeds; the dwelling had been badly remodeled in the 1970s with additions and alterations that mortified its overall appearance. The ground floor, used as a cellar, was completely disconnected from the upper floors, and the garden itself had no direct connection to the residential area.
The stated intent of the project was to “clean up” by recovering what was left of authenticity and eliminating any disfiguring intervention, inserted later, with construction types totally at odds with the morphology of the original building organism.
The walls were integrated and recovered with insertions of the same local stone and masonry in lime and cocciopesto, all the load-bearing walls were reconsolidated with cuci e scuci interventions. The roofs were restored by consolidating and treating the old chestnut and oak beams and supplementing the roofing tiles and roofing tiles with salvaged elements of the same characteristics and inserting an appropriate insulation and ventilation layer. The original exposed wood and brick floors were also repurposed and local materials and traditional finishes were used, with the use of lime, stone, wood and brick mortars and plasters.
From the volumetric and distributive point of view, the existing spaces were “pandered to,” enhancing their intrinsic potential and inserting elements of continuity and connection in search of a general harmony and a unifying feeling of great character.
The repurposed and enlarged internal staircase with the helical part stretching toward the lower floor, the extensive use of wood flooring, a slightly bleached natural oak, the recurring color of the wooden fixtures, the taupe of the walls combined with brushed light travertine and the teal of the bathroom and spa wall tiles, create references and give unity to the complex.
Minimalist lines, recovery and enhancement of the use of exposed stone, wood and handmade brick, combined with a clean, linear finish and the fluidity and brightness of the spaces, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The transformation of the annex, a former shelter for tools and animals, into a spa, a real mini indoor pool, with the large glass wall and the cut of light in the roof, enriches and completes the overall picture with an element of marked modernity.