Art nouveau villa in northern Italy redesigned by Oasi architects into a family home
An art nouveau villa in northern Italy with a history of varied uses and architectural amendments has been redesigned by Oasi Architects into a house for a young family with three children.
Once surrounded by green parkland, the decorative ‘Liberty’ period villa in Busto Arsizio, built in the early 1900s, gradually shifted from suburb to centre as the city expanded. While its grounds were given up to urban infill with a warehouse and a neighbouring building added in the 60s, it retained its poise in the face of change.
Multiple interior modifications over the years as the building changed hands and functions meant that to return the house to its former glory, Oasi Architects had to take a tough approach to bring it back to residential use. For a period of time, it had been used as a rehabilitation centre for teenagers so much of the interior had been remodelled.
‘The biggest challenge of the project was the attempt to bring to life the hidden spatiality of the house through a subtracting process,’ say the architects, who also had to convince the client that a partial interior demolition was the best way to approach a restoration.
Architects Pietro Ferrario and Francesco Enea Castellanza worked to ‘open, remove, cut, peel, remove, and unveil’ parts of the building to create the modern and functional design now found inside – that also celebrates the gracious character and elegant architectural details of the original villa.
The space across the three-storey house was stripped back to reveal the original wooden roof structure, then remodeled vertically to create a wide central corridor. The floors were re-cut to define new light-filled interior spaces, unique in shape at each level and connected with a renovated central staircase with new steel handrail – just one of Oasi’s trademark artistic twists.
Each floor has its own identity, brought to life with new material details. Industrial cement was cast across the whole ground floor, which becomes a canvas for communal activity. Meanwhile, the first floor, featuring bedrooms and bathrooms, brings richer colours, carpets combining reused and new material and mirrors to expand the perception of space. §