Tall and narrow this house on the main square of Vigone, a small town a stone’s throw from Turin, looks almost like a tower. Martina Parise lives in the three stories apartment above the double-doored ground floor. It was built in the fifteenth century to house the staff of a wealthy princess that lived just opposite. Martina Parise, aged 28, likes to sit looking out through the open windows with a cappuccino or prosecco within easy reach on the marble side table. ‘It’s like sitting outside among the people, but at the same time you have the comfort and privacy of your own home. So nice.’ The dialogue between exterior and interior was exactly what architect Eirini Giannakopoulou had in mind when she designed the wooden scaffold that was built against the entire width of the façade. Eirini: ‘It’s a bit like a bus stop with a bench on a beautiful piazza that you can enjoy dry and from a distance.’ An art object that is also practical. The octagonal tiles that cover the floor are a reference to the flagstones of the square. ‘Rather than standing alone, this property has been part of the village square for centuries and that’s why I wanted to connect Martina’s apartment with its surroundings.’
Six centuries ago it began as the place for the staff of a fabulously rich princess, now this tall house on Vigone’s main square is home to a young entrepreneur.
Reconcile the old and the new
The house had been left empty for years when an acquaintance of Martina’s pointed it out to her. ‘It belonged to his father-in-law and he knew that the man wanted to get rid of it even though it hadn’t officially been put up for sale. I knew the building exterior well, with its historical sun dial and arch-shaped entrance and was enthusiastic immediately'. Once the sale had been finalized she contacted Stefano Carera and Eirini Giannakopoulou of architecture firm SCEG in Turin. ‘They have a lot of experience in refurbishing historical buildings and know how to reconcile the old and the new in an original and respectful way.’ After a lot of talking and exchanging ideas we managed to create something we all love.
The house is now exactly as I hoped it would be: open, functional and full of eye-catchers.’ Because the light only enters the space through two windows in the front of and two windows in the rear, the architects created a maximally open plan space and used lots of mirrors. Martina: ‘The kitchen plays a central role in my life so I wanted the kitchen to become the heart of the living space. I preferred filling in the space between the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, but the wide corridor to the right of the kitchen [towards the sleeping area, PvD] has deliberately been left open so that the front and back rooms merge into one another.’
A fun detail is created by three wall mirrors directly opposite the free-standing cooker. SCEG designed the trio and through clever folding, each of the mirrors reflects a different angle. ‘This means that as I cook, I can look at things happening outside, in the living space and in the corridor to the back rooms.’ The bedroom is also provided with a special wall unit with mirrors in two different tones. Martina, laughing: ‘Honestly, not to look at myself! They are placed at such an angle that the room looks bigger and that I can see outside from the bed.’ The green leather headboard fulfilled one of the young resident’s explicit wishes. ‘The architects thought it was a good idea, but wanted to give it an unusual twist.’ The result is an asymmetrical back support that morphs into a bedside table, all clad in the same leather. 'The covering is green like oxidized copper so they proposed to make the base of the bed of copper. These are exactly the kinds of stimulating ideas for which you engage an architect.’