Villa RA stems from the desire of our clients to return to their roots in Calabria with the project of a summer retreat. They imagined this retreat as a place of respite and reconnection; a place from which to enjoy the virtues of their land in a way that is harmonious with not only the landscape, but also the tradition of living in such a place. To dwell in Calabria is to firmly locate oneself in the Mediterranean landscape. Our client’s site is located atop of a ridge that degrades towards the Gulf of Squillace, around 300m above sea level. Situated as such, one’s experience is either loftily transported through views down toward the sea in the south or towards mountains in the west.
Conceived as a “house that looks”, Villa Ra is a compact structure punctuated by openings that frame the landscape. This was our design intention; the idea that generated the project and held it accountable to the site. It is typical of a Mediterranean dwelling, where the understanding of a relationship with the place has a central role in the conception and expression of its outcome. As a result, the new dwelling aims to be part of the landscape as a whole, as opposed to being an unrelated autonomous element. But rather than looking to formally mimic the landscape in order to feel at ease with the site, the project draws from the tradition of the Italian villa and the material tones of the land it sits on.
Like traditional Italian villas, the design is based on an axial organization as its primary ordering system. This helps defining the project not only from an architectural sense but also in its programmatic arrangement. The North- South axis organises a series of three spaces, offering differing levels of exposure to the site with a gradual progression towards the sea view. The sequence begins with an enclosed entrance patio that acts as a buffer between the landscape and the built fabric. Following the patio is the living area opening onto the portico, typical feature of the Italian villa inherently blurring the delineation between indoor and outdoor.
The second axis running East-West, organises semi-public to public to private spaces: namely the kitchen, the living room and the sleeping quarters. At the intersection of these two axis lies the living room at the heart of the house.
Grounded to the site not only by the tone of the plaster finish – traditional Cocciopesto - chromatically akin to the soil the project sits amongst a bed of crushed local stone that bleeds the thresholds further into the landscape. The immediate surroundings of the Villa unfold around existing granite boulders and Oak trees. The limited palette of materials reveals the simple geometry of the building and creates a visual and tactile continuity between landscape and architecture.