"Stone ruins have been rebuilt by hand to create the ultimate
ski base for a young family."
"There’s something that feels utterly romantic about this dwelling – so much so that its imperfect brick facades look as though they were ripped from the pages of our favourite fairytales. And though the retreat’s storybook cham is only heightened by the jaw-dropping mountainscape in which it sits, its beginnings are in fact a little more humble.
Buried within one of the few Italian valleys yet to be hit by the wave of mass tourism that washes over the Alps, the skeleton of an old agricultural store presented a young family with a base for the ski season. Boasting close proximity to the slopes and undisturbed panoramas meant its positioning couldn’t have been more perfect."
"However, the plot was by no means without its challenges – from the existing structure being too small, to the dry stone walls not complying with regulations. Quick to find ways around this, ATOMAA created a plan that began with the painstaking dismantling and rebuilding of the historical brick formations to recreate the original silhouette before reconfiguring the floorplan.
Dressed in a warm birch ply to contrast its rugged shell, the pared-black interior also benefits from an orchestration of windows that – although may be atypical of traditional alpine structures – allow light to infiltrate deep into the plan. Finding balance between paying homage to the local vernacular and meeting the demands of a modern day client seems almost impossible, but ATOMAA’s unwavering patience and sensitive eye was just the right combination for the job."
Brera apartment was born from a private investment in a very pleasant part of the city center. The apartment sits in a beautiful building from the turn of the century, in a rather dense 'open railing house', a typology of building that is extremely difficult to realize today given the building regulations and construction norms. This typology of building, however, is very typical of Milanese residential architecture.
This building, which used to be considered as an ordinary residential building for the working class, is today in one of the most beautiful and most trendy neighborhoods in Milan and it holds up very well.
The apartment welcomes you immediately upon entering - and that's it, it's complete.
It was not necessary for the apartment to be overturned; firstly for the budget, and secondly because it already worked well on a spatial level.
It was important to construct something that had a very simple character, so we looked into reducing the materials to the bare minimum so that everything has its place.
The real job was to optimize all of the space, with every extra inch used for storage.
One of the most important parts of the apartment is the bed. It is raised off the ground so that underneath there is space for a real walk-in closet.
House in a constant transition is also situated in a historic building from the 1930s, one which holds a very Art Nouveau style.
The main goal for this project, was to have a very flexible house that could be both divided into rooms but potentially also be a large open space.
The spaces are defined by a series of curtains and sliding panels which help to either open or close the spaces, depending on the time of day and the functions which are associated with that time of day. If we can give the clients the opportunity to be flexible, we consider that to be a small victory.
It became fundamental that the main services of the apartment - ie. the entrance, laundry, bathroom and wardrobe - were situated in the darkest parts of the apartment, allowing for the more open spaces - ie. the living room, kitchen/dining room and bedroom - to benefit most from the natural light that the apartment has to offer. All of these open spaces, are separated by moveable panels or curtains, which is one way of controlling the light, but also the organization of the spaces.
"In a valley in the Alps, studio ATOMAA has rehabilitated and enlarged an old stone ruin. The essential appearance of the spaces and openings gives the interiors an intimate and contemporary character.
"From old ruin to comfortable residence, blending perfectly into the Alpine landscape of the Val Divedro, so far spared from mass tourism. House Cinsc started out from a traditional rural construction, used seasonally as a cattle shed and hay barn. 'The structure was fairly unstable, in fragile equilibrium', recalls Andrea Del Pedro Pera, responsible for the intervention with his partners Cesare Galligani and Umberto Maj of studio ATOMAA in Milan, 'but reserved some surprises. Like the ample stone arch and the old fireplace on the ground floor, from which it can be deduced that the building was also used as a dwelling.' "
"The project has restored the old form of the barn, consolidated the walls and reconfigured the internal spaces with a well-lit double-height kitchen and an additional block that enriches the original layout. Entrance and living room are located in the new volume, set against the mountain but facing onto the landscape. On the outside the building has retained its original stone walls, as required by the local regulations. The interiors, with their minimal and rigorous design, are intimate and cosy thanks to the extensive use of larch and birch wood for the floors, ceilings, walls and furniture."
“We have reutilized the material of the old ruin almost obsessively,” says Del Pedro Pera. “Discarded stones have been used to build the new walls, the wood of the old roof for the lintels of doors and windows. The retaining walls of the terracing and the new extension use portions of excavated rock. In addition, the external areas have been paved with the piòde (stone slabs, editor’s note) of the old roof. All this thanks to the skill of the local craftsmen.” And where stone and wood couldn’t do the job the architects have turned to concrete, which holds an open dialogue with the main materials of the house, just as in the new volume a pouring of black resin has taken the place of the larch floors."
"Worthy of separate discussion are the numerous openings made to reconstruct the pre-existing ones, or using archetypical geometries. From the completely glazed gable that illuminates from above the kitchen set on an intermediate floor to the arched window that lets light into the bedroom on the lowest level of the house. Spaces for the life of today, in a ‘shell’ that respects the traditions of the region."
Planning Permission has been granted for our proposal for a private home on Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. Situated on a very narrow and complex site, the building aims to become a little and cosy family home.
The minimal site width triggered a variety of architectural solutions to the family's needs. The internal layout allows for different spaces where several functions and desires find life; the thickness of the facade becomes a tool to mediate the relationship between the internal and external landscape, providing space to live and breathe in.
"In the extreme north-west of the Italian Alps, immersed in the most unspoiled nature, House Cinsc is located in one of the few valleys spared by the expansion of mass tourism, which transformed the mountains between the 1950s and 1980s."
"We are almost 1400 meters above sea level, where the roads become gradually steeper to reach the small group of houses perched on a mountain ridged. Places inhabited for generations that have maintained vast expanses of pasture meadows and cultivated land, have now returned to dense woods. An inevitable process of the re-appropriation of nature that characterizes the existing valley and attracts a slow and respectful tourist flow."
"House Cinsc is an act of recovery and a reinterpretation of the alpine rural dwelling. The project restores the old shape, consolidates the walls and intervenes by reconfiguring the interiors. From an exchange of volumes, an additional body arises that enriches the original layout and clarifies spaces and functions."
"The interior is thus configured as a privileged space from which to observe the profile of the surrounding peaks. Apparently devoid of ornament, it is rigorous and minimal in language, as Alpine culture dictates. In a context strongly characterized by the use of stone, we chose wood for the interior floors, walls, ceilings and main furnishings."
"The contrast between exterior and interior is evident: outside a hard, cold stone body, mimetic with the landscape; inside, instead, an intimate and warm environment, where timber is the protagonist. The recovery was a balancing act between tradition and contemporaneity, in an attempt to maintain the identity of the place and preserve the alpine rural heritage."
"While the advantages of living in confined environments are undeniable, it must be recognized that many systems and organs, including those of sense, are designed and function best in outdoor environments. The visual perception of the surrounding environment is based on the convergence and projection of images on the retina of the eye. While viewing distant objects does not require work of focus, those close, below 6 meters, require the intervention of the ciliary muscle to increase the thickness of the crystalline lens and project the image correctly on the retina..."
"Technically, the ideal environment for man is the one in which his DNA developed, that is the open spaces of the forest (...)."
...it follows that, in the vast majority of constructions, the ciliary muscle is an exercise even when staring at the farthest object. It is an unconscious effort that apparently does not create disturbances, but has no alternatives in the confined environment. "
"Hearing is structured in such a way as to better hear the sound of objects placed in front and below but is affected by the interference of reflected acoustic waves: the reverberation of acoustic waves in confined spaces strongly limits the perception of the word and its intelligibility, so much that the best parameter for the usability of an environment from an acoustic point of view is the reverberation time, that is the residence of the sound energy inside the environment, while the natural tendency of the acoustic wave is to move away and disperse without return.
Exposure to humid, cold or too hot microclimates in confined environments induces physical or emotional limitations that affect daily life(dyspnea, inappetence, low vitality, dissatisfaction), conditions that are however easily resolved with building and non-medical interventions. "
Produced by: Newmac
Creator: Colin Chee
Producer: Lindsay Barnard
Director/Camera operator: Alessandro Carpentiero
Editor: Colin Chee
Interview: Philip Kolevsohn
Illustration: Alexander Klein, 1927, Functional House for Frictionless Living
In a historic building in the Piola area, an apartment renovated respecting the traces of time, where the stuccos coexist with the design choices and the new wooden elements draw a contemporary scenography.
Neither traditional nor modern, with an eclectic style that is a combination of sedimentations, additions and overlaps. In a period building in the Piola area of Milan, the ATOMAA studio has renovated a 110 sqm apartment as a modern 'wunderkammer', in which the new bespoke furnishings have softly blended with vintage pieces and pre-existing materials.
The intention was to "create lively environments", starting from a neutral background dictated by the light colour of the walls in order to bring out the furnishings as much as possible and new wooden elements developed together with the designer Giacomo Moor.
The renovation, carried out without losing sight of the budget, is the result of a close exchange between architect and client, a thirty-year-old couple of professionals who have long been linked to designers for professional reasons.
Considering the state of affairs, represented by the beautiful volumes typical of houses of the period, the architects had the foresight to intervene in a light way, limiting the demolitions and enhancing what was there: from the plaster frames, down to details less visible, even traces of past eras. The original herringbone cherry wood floor in the living room is no exception: it had to be dismantled and has instead been restored to its former glory.
The internal distribution was created with a clear hierarchy: the large main space dedicated to the living area has been opened as much as possible and is now seamlessly unified through three portals of the same size, which facilitate access to the service spaces. In the kitchen, a part of the wardrobe camouflages one of the entrances, as if it were a secret passage, which appears and disappears completely.
In terms of furnishings, vintage furniture coexists in a casual way mixed with more recent pieces and design objects collected over time by the owners. Here a Le Corbusier armchair dated 1928 is accompanied by a recent sofa by Piero Lissoni, the "eternal" Castiglioni and Prouvé lamps are combined with an industrial table by Konstantin Grcic, in a dialogue made temporally possible by the design, not at all in contrast but simply open to accommodate various eras and styles.
the generic name for the various tools used in domestic life.
Eg. in the kitchen: some utensils more necessary in the kitchen are pots, pans and cutlery.
In artisan shops, laboratories or workshops, any simple tool suitable for working with metals, wood or stone; for example. the hammer, the chisel, the pincers, the pliers, the scissors, the saw, the file, the drill, the awl, etc.
- Vocabulary Treccani
The project is designed in an organic way, taking several aspects into account from the outset, starting with the distribution of spaces, as a tool that can simplify and facilitate the activities of domestic life. The rooms are organized through an inhabited envelope made up of a set of custom-integrated fixed furniture elements.
The walls, doors and elements of mobile furniture are removed from the construction of space and of domestic life, and only ‘structures as devices’ remain, which organize the available space with elements that can change function during the day. The house is no longer conceived as an empty envelope to be filled or decorated with objects that affirm a status, but as an ad hoc tool capable of simplifying and making ordinary and extraordinary actions and gestures more comfortable, at different times of the day, on demand.
The acceptable contemporary urban apartment usually consists of many environments: an entrance with supporting furniture; a kitchen without compromise; a snack area (which we realised functions better as an island); a dining area which has the possibility to welcome a good number of guests on different occasions; a living and relaxation area; a sleeping area in the form of an alcove, or bedroom; a wardrobe or closet; a study area for working remotely; a bathroom with a full wall shower a required services. In a micro apartment, the main challenge is to incorporate all of these elements into a very confined space.
Comfort is more
Perceptions inside the home can be changed according to the perspective of the user, allowing the apartment to be a reflection of the feelings and the mood of the person. It is important to understand how the spaces in the house have the ability to change during different times of the day and how those changes, in relationship with the natural light entering the apartment, can allow the user to adapt those spaces for different uses. The adaptability of the spaces should allow the inhabitant to achieve both private and semi-private spaces with minimal effort. This also allows the person to provide a variety of experiences within a very confined space, a freedom which would otherwise be lost if this element of flexibility was not considered.
The sensitive material choices and colour palette are vital to achieving a sense of calm in a space which can be transformed into a private sanctuary within the busy and vibrant city centre. For us it is important to emphasize that furniture or furnished elements can provide multiple functions: they define space limits and fixed scenes, but are also tool boxes and functional elements, which act as storage for items which are fundamental to contemporary urban living.
To ensure the presence of the different environments, it is necessary to work with the concept of time.
“Comfort depends ninety-eight percent on common sense and two percent on aesthetics”
- Terence Conran
Only a few uses can take place at the same time or within a close proximity to another. Most household activities are regularly carried out in fairly orderly succession. The use of the space changes following the movement of the body within it (like a glove), and not vice versa. ‘Home as a tool’ also means that the body and its life (and requirements) are at the centre of the construction of the space, with all the limits and weaknesses it brings with it.
The aspiration of comfort remains. Those who live in a house need a minimum living space, naturally well lit, a double bed, a full kitchen, a closet at the entrance for wet umbrellas, etc.
When we speak about Micro Apartments, we know that this can work only if the space is comfortable. To achieve that, it is necessary to think in a different way from the early stages of the project. A way that sees the whole picture all together, and synthesizes it.
Today, we think that the comfort of a well designed house - beautiful, flexible and functional at the same time and one that can actually improve the quality of the moments spent in it - is the real luxury experience people want, more than a place that reflects an economic status.
Produced by: Newmac
Creator: Colin Chee
Producer: Lindsay Barnard
Director/Camera operator: Alessandro Carpentiero
Editor: Colin Chee
Interview: Philip Kolevsohn
First b/w Illustration: Built-in wall storage unit with built-in bed and desk - Charles and Ray Eames, 1961
NCSU Design Library Image Collection
Second coloured illustration: from the book "Easier life" Wright
Video Link: NEVER TOO SMALL Ep47 Project link: Link
“Someone could indicate other destinations, other routes, cancel a route already taken or tell us that "all the roads here are mine", but we know that the world of wonders is still possible, in the choices we allow ourselves to make, in not being afraid to trust tastes and preferences, in personalisation, and in thinking that perhaps a home is not forever, but it is rather the memory of the home we hold that is forever.”
Sitting snug within the design district of NoLo in the north-east of Milan, Nolita is a beautifully cosy and well-lit home for travellers.
Waking up in an apartment building from the 20s has never felt quite like this. Snippets of the apartment’s history greet you around every turn, with ornate ceiling details and beautiful concrete floor tiles flowing from room to room. Sunlight beams through the apartment in the early hours of the morning, as the crisp Milan air flows through the central corridor. The birds singing from the treetops in the lush courtyard beside the kitchen detach you from the hustle and bustle of the city, virtually transporting you to the flowing greens which surround the city’s urban fringes.
With obvious reference to the book “Lolita” by novelist Vladimir Nabokov, the apartment takes on the character of being precociously seductive, much like the story’s second lead character Dolores Haze, also referred to as Lolita.
The attention to detail in this big yet simple apartment is evident from the first moment. A small light greets you with a warm embrace, turning on automatically as you enter. From this point, the central corridor, already filled with natural light beaming from the rooms along its full length, is now full of light.
When making your way along the central spine of the home, hints of colour catch your peripheral attention as you go. Each room, still with its original flooring, is painted with its own colour, inspired by the apartment’s historic narrative lying underfoot.
The rooms leading off the corridor are dressed with a double door with an ornate architrave to frame it. The walls of each room are divided; the lower portion painted in a colour which seems to flow upwards from the existing floor tiles, while the upper part of the walls and ceiling are painted white, allowing the natural light to bounce around the room. This simple strategy allows for an elegant yet relatable domestic finish, encompassing and enhancing all of the detailed characteristics of what remains of the historic narrative of the home.
The apartment is sprinkled with a number of free-standing designed furniture pieces, allowing for freedom of movement and flow. The only permanent piece of furniture is the kitchen countertop; and what a piece it is. Lightly dashed with hints of pink and white marble granules, the pink concrete worktop flows seamlessly from a horizontal plane into a backsplash and finally capped with a narrow and elegant ledge. All cast as one unique piece, this feature further highlights the attention to detail which is echoed throughout the apartment – the most agreeable discourse between aesthetic pleasure and utility.
The long outstretched breakfast bar extends towards a glass double door at the end of the kitchen, guiding you to the beautifully lit balcony which stretches almost the entire length of the apartment. A small table set for two provides an incredibly romantic setting, channeling the apartments inner "Lolita" and providing the perfect spot for a morning coffee, nestled in the treetops of the lush courtyard below.
The home as a whole, with all of its minimal yet particular design considerations, provides the sensation of full immersion into a wonderfully gentle world of Italian domestic bliss.
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