Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

 

Located on the Brescian shore of Lake Garda, Toscolano-Maderno is a beautiful part of the world. Just the type of place you could imagine having an equally stunning holiday house. If Bergmeisterwolf Architekten are your architects, then you can count yourself lucky.

What makes this home so unique is not necessarily the way they’ve added a glass and concrete, addition or that said addition contrasts spectacularly with the original, old stone home it forms a part of. And it’s not necessarily that it sits on a plot of land that is home to lemon orchards and old palm trees. Nor is it the juxtaposition of the old roman built walls surrounding the property with the acres of new clear glass in the new build. No, its something far more subtle and yet equally as powerful.

It’s the windows.

We are used to sliding doors. Doors that open the interior of the space into the garden creating an indoor outdoor experience. But this detail is quite unique. The windows here open vertically. They can be adjusted to any height to let in air or light, but they ultimately retract entirely into the floor, opening the space the way one might expect cantilevered doors to.

But it’s more than just the clever decision to go vertical over horizontal. It’s more than simply being able to decide how much inside space you want and how much outside. In fact, it’s the way they have detailed the ceiling that enables the room, when the windows are completely open, to feel as though the space sits under a canopy. A veranda of sorts.

 

Related Post: Stories on Design // Outdoor Rooms.

 

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

 

“The existing building, the extension and the garden come together as one. Vertical sliding windows can be moved downward and disappear, transforming intimate into wide open spaces. A canopy becomes a house and then a canopy again,” said the architects.

The thick concrete eaves dovetail into the concealed, black steel framing that house the windows. When the space is entirely open, it looks as though it was always designed to be an open air space. The small trim of stone flooring mirrors the overhang of the concrete plinth above, completing the visual illusion that the space was created to be completely exposed to the elements – the way a veranda is meant to be exposed.

But it’s not just the clever way the space opens that is the only hero to this story. When you take a century old villa and add a concrete and glass extension, you have to be harmonious in your thinking. You have to have an eye for detail. And in exceptional cases, an element of surprise. One can’t plonk a simple rectangle on the back of a century old building and be done with it.

One of the delightful ways the architects have shown empathy to the old building is by its use of concrete. It’s not the rough and raw finish we are used to seeing in more industrial installations. This concrete reads as silky smooth, a new material but a contrasting and complimentary reference to the rougher existing stone façade of the existing home.

“Dyed concrete surfaces build a complementary relationship with the existing plastered stone façade,” said the architects.

 

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

Holiday House in Italy with Vertical Sliding Windows by bergmeisterwolf architekten | Yellowtrace

 

Another element of surprise in this project are the stairs. Linking the old and the new buildings, the stairs are an Escher inspired construction, copying his explorations of infinity, reflection, symmetry and perspective. In elevation, they are more of a work of art than a stairwell.

Where do the stairs start, where do they end? Are they right side up or upside down? Upside down timber treads mirror the concrete ones below, which mirror the illusion of another type of step, this time in plasterboard. Whilst the geometry of the stairs could be seen as overly complicated, instead it reads as a simple statement. This is in part due to the restrained use of materials to clearly express the strong graphical nature of the stairs.

All of these elements in unison make this simple L-shape addition anything but simple. But at the same time, it all reads as remarkably simple. And that dichotomy in itself would surely make Escher proud.

 

Related Post: Stories on Design // Outdoor Rooms.

 

 


[Images courtesy of BergmeisterWolf Architekten. Photography by Gustav Willeit.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle
Contributor

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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