Studio of Designer and Architects / Italian Attic

Located in Italy and completed in 2013. This sixteenth-century attic was designed by SODAA (Studio of Designer and Architects).

SODAA Italian Attic (1)

To make contemporary design and maintain the cultural of historic buildings in Italy’s mostly conservative small towns is not an easy task for this two architects, Daniela Simon and Nicola Chiavarelli. Overlooking Fiera di Primiero’s main thoroughfare and its transformation into a two-bedroom apartment brought together two complementary but distinctive approaches to design. Open space and light makes natural light from existing south and east-facing opening to penetrate far into the interior of the space. The floor and floor surfacing, a combination of thermo-acoustic panels, new and refurbished timber boards and natural rubber on original joists, were re-established at a consistent level within each of the three bays. However, the level obliges one to step over and through the truss framing, thus heightening awareness of the structure. Likewise, the framing has been lightly sandblasted to reveal its wood grain and treated with eco-friendly finishes, among additional measures taken to preserve a feel for the building’s historic fabric. (Two-hundred-year-old larch boards were treated for use as a dining room table and for other surfaces.) The architects’ efforts were supported by a range of building products, material experts and craftspeople available and skilled enough to achieve the desired results, generally with greater reliability than in Australia.

Additional bedroom space and light were provided by adding a mezzanine level, an opportunity afforded by the need to remove and mostly rebuild the eighteenth-century roof. For the mezzanine the lightest structure possible, made of new timber sourced from north-eastern European forests, was required – its weight transferred directly onto existing load-bearing stone walls, rather than the restored roof trusses. Heritage regulations required that a new upper-level window to the east be concealed from neighboring buildings with neo-traditional timber lattice, though a larger expanse of unshielded fenestration to the south was allowed. Thus the mezzanine works as a light well and a third source of natural illumination, while the clear distinctions between timber beams supporting the attic roof and the bedroom floor – between old and new – heighten awareness that this renovation is only the latest chapter in the attic’s story.

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Photography by Giacomo Bianchi.