A Japanese-Italian architecture duo totally transform this farmhouse idyll on the edges of Rome
A home is no longer just a place to live and relax but increasingly to work and, ideally, with access to green space that isn’t overly isolated.
It’s a tall order, but this is what Antonella Gnetti wanted when she commissioned Alvisi Kirimoto, a Rome-based Italo-Japanese architecture studio, to design and rebuild a farmhouse to the north of Rome. Antonella, a furniture maker, restorer and designer, needed space for her atelier, Opificio Lauchli, and to have a bright, spacious home for living and entertaining. She was also keen for the house to be integrated into the landscape, while retaining a connection to the city.
Alvisi Kirimoto’s response, Casa C, fits the bill. Situated on a hill, the house overlooks the Inviolatella Borghese park, where wild boar and birds roam. But equally, it’s not far from city landmarks like Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum of twenty-first century arts and Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica auditorium. It has the best of both worlds.
Built on the original farmhouse footprint, Casa C follows the simplicity of a traditional Italian homestead externally, with an open, contemporary, three-storey interior. The central feature is a staircase with micro-perforated transparent steps and balustrade, with a large skylight at the top, which provides continuity and light between the levels. “Designed as a single piece, the staircase is made of metal, allowing light to filter through a play of reflections and shadows,” says Junko Kirimoto, who co-founded the practice with Massimo Alvisi in 2002.
Designed as a single piece, the staircase is made of metal – allowing light to filter through a play of reflections and shadows
The international, award-winning studio describes itself as a “merging of Italian and Japanese sensibilities” – which can be seen throughout Casa C. Current projects include a redevelopment of the historic centre in Hanoi, Vietnam; a villa and park in Sardinia; and collaborative work with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop on the Whittle School and studios in Nanjing and Shanghai, China.
Light, materials and colour play an important part in the design approach, which includes high ceilings and plenty of windows at each level. The ground floor is designed as a light, informal space made up of a large living room, kitchen, dining area with exposed concrete pillars and Antonella’s workshop. Several sets of French windows lead to a loggia and large garden.
At the top of the house is the master bedroom and a living area with a pitched roof and exposed ceiling beams. Alvisi Kirimoto has designed furniture in orientated strand board (OSB) treated with glossy green lacquer, and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. The bookcases and desks throughout the house are also custom-designed by the Rome studio, while the three coffee tables and free-standing bookcase were designed by Opificio Lauchli. On the first floor, a bright splash of yellow ceiling marks out the children’s area, in strong contrast to the dark metal staircase and white walls. Four bedrooms are also located here.
“The house is a homogenous and dynamic space where materials and surfaces change, extending the emotion from the visual experience to the tactile dimension,” says Kirimoto, who reknown for her attention to detail, design rigour and minimalist approach.
For the owners, one of the best aspects of the design is the seamlessness between the indoor and outdoor spaces, where the ground floor opens to the loggia, garden and nature, all within a stone’s throw of the eternal City.