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HOUSE ALONG SARDINIA’s COASTLINE

Santa Margherita di Pula (Cagliari) - Italy

2015

When designing this villa to be built along Sardinia’s coastline it was my intention to link it to its geographical and cultural environment using contemporary and sober language, yet unmistakably Mediterranean and referring to the traditional arts and crafts of this Italian island. Far from wishing to evoke Sardinia through trite conventional images, I found my inspiration in reproducing some textures of traditional weaving (typical ancient and contemporary fabrics and carpets), jewellery (gold filigree), embroidery and basket weaving, transposing them into stone and ceramic finishes and coverings. This house was designed and built for a married couple living in London, but wishing to spend in Sardinia at least one week per month, hosting here many of their international friends. The house is built on the side of the hills and offers a superb view on the green pinewood below and the facing Mediterranean sea. It is a two storey building laying on a sloping 4.622sqm wide property. Both levels (lower floor: 163,6sqm – upper floor: 112sqm) have complementary wide panoramic terraces (upper floor: 117,5sqm; lower floor: 445,4sqm, including an 80sqm swimming pool). The architecture of the house consists of pure and squared volumes finished with a bright white plaster featuring a thick texture of lime and sand mixed together. A textured dado in red basalt stone – coplanar with the lime plaster laid above - surrounds the whole elevation of the lower floor; such dado’s texture is meant to evoke the wattled vegetal fibres of typical Sardinian baskets. From the entrance lobby, through a full height double leaf door (perfectly integrated in an 8x2,70mt wood cladding covering the opposite face of the wall) one may step into the wide open space of the living room, including the dining area and a small, yet well proportioned toilet serving the lower floor. The main feature of the living room is the background wall behind the wide sofa, covered with a textured white lime stone, meant to evoke the typical Sardinian ancient weaving technique called “a pibiònes” (grained texture). In the facing perimetric wall open wide windows sliding in a hollow space within the masonry. Through them one can enjoy the superb facing view and have access to the huge panoramic terraces surrounding the ground floor. At one end of the living room is the mentioned oak wood cladding integrating the double leaf door giving access to the entrance; when this is open, such lobby, the living, the dining area and the kitchen may be perceived as a wide and fluid open space in continuity with the outside terraces. From the kitchen, through a wide sliding window, one may access the outside dining terrace overlooking the swimming pool located a few steps below. Going back to the living area, an open passage adjacent to the textured wall gives access to the staircase leading to the upper floor. The stairs upper landing consists of an anteroom space flooded by copious daylight filtering through the wide skylight above. Full height glass panels protect against accidental falls in the staircase void and allow the natural light to permeate the whole space, making this last look wider than it actually is. All bedrooms, are about bare. All have large Cor-ten framed sliding windows giving access to the wide surrounding terraces. One of the rooms features a wall covering with special ceramic tiles, the texture of which is meant to evoke traditional ancient Sardinian jewellery (golden filigree) and embroidery. All bedrooms are fitted with bespoke wall to wall suspended wardrobe cabinets. In the main bedroom such cabinet is faced by a full height wood panelling integrating the access door, while its central section features a double leaf doorway giving access to the en suite bathroom. Once stepping in there, one faces a bathtub freestanding out at a wide sliding window (giving access to a large panoramic terrace) and so providing the pleasure of a relaxing bath en plein air, under the beautiful Sardinian blue sky. At one and of the bathroom is the wide alcove devoted to the shower. Some of the bathroom walls are covered with 120x120cm wide ceramic tiles featuring a texture which is meant to remind revisited patterns of traditional Sardinian carpets. In the guest’s bathroom, opposite to the entrance, is the wide alcove of the shower. Note the small panels recessed in the side walls of the sinks alcove: foldaway mirrors have been fitted on their inner face. A band of black and white textured ceramic tiles runs from floor to walls, up to the ceiling, flush with the surrounding finish of floor and walls and integrating a transversal brushed stainless steel band devoted to the w.c. flush operation buttons. The texture of such tiles is meant to evoke hand woven traditional Sardinian fabrics and carpets.