Hidden in the Landscape: House on Sicily
Client: Erica Anna Cavalli
Architect: Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio
Location: Scicli, Sicily (IT)
The house, which features studio spaces, is located near the town of Scicli. The area is characterized by terraced hills where olive trees grow and walls of white stone that cut across the landscape. The architects have used this stone as cladding for the front façade, which – extended to the sides- also functions as a supporting wall for the hill. The front of the house is interrupted by large, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors which are glazed and thus offer a view towards the Mediterranean. The back side of the house fits into the hillside, where it forms two sheltered outdoor areas and fits perfectly into the surrounding countryside.
A pool extends nearly the entire length of the front of the house; it serves not only the purpose of recreation, but also that of cooling of the house. Cooler air rises from the water and is directed through the house. As the air is warmed inside, it can escape via the two inner courtyards.
These courtyards on the north side of the building were inspired by traditional building methods. They have been cut directly into the hill and cannot be seen directly from outside. They provide shelter from the sun and the extreme summer heat. A particularly special feature is that one of the yards can be used as an open-air kitchen covered with a light mesh of bamboo. The other yard adjoins the studio, enabling additional illumination from the north. The structure has been set into the hill in such a way that it can hardly be seen from higher up. The architects chose this building style not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for the sake of energy efficiency. The layers of earth that surround the house represent a natural form of insulation.
The roof has been planted with local greenery and can be used as a terrace. A broad canopy juts over the front façade, providing protection from the sun – a simple solution that shades the large-format openings.
Inside, the spatial distribution follows a simple pattern: the most important rooms are arranged directly between the front and back of the house, creating the impression that the landscape runs through the building. Private and functional spaces face the countryside only to the front. The bedroom in the middle, which has an ensuite and walk-in closet, seems to divide the house in two. One side of the house is devoted to living, the other to studio work.
On the whole, when planning this house the architects lay great value taking advantage of Sicily’s sunshine for sustainable energy; they also wanted to disturb nature as little as possible. As the house generates power via both solar thermal energy and photovoltaic panels, it is virtually independent of other sources.