Article by Eni Çeka – A project review of the Villa in Monte Argentario, by Lazzarini Pickering, Tuscany, Italy. An inspirational display of stunning design and Italian charm. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…” – Henry David Thoreau Who wouldn’t want to live in a residence where the interior melts into the gardens of the outside world, diving into a voyage of spiritual discovery? This 32-hectare private estate in the Tuscan countryside is an exquisite example of the Italian landscape style. The intense dialogue of the villa with the natural surroundings makes this house truly unique. The landscape reflects beauty, tranquility and relaxation while allowing the villa to become one with nature.
Stunning Garden Design
Location of the Project
This dreamy villa is located in the peninsula of Monte Argentario, about 150km south of Florence in the region of Tuscany. “La Bella Toscana”, as Italians call it, is recognized throughout the centuries for impressive gardens; from the Medici gardens to small villas within the rolling Tuscan hills, the landscapes tell the story of their past.
Tuscan Villa Garden Design
The term Tuscan villa implies the presence of an elaborated design. The Italian Renaissance garden broke down the wall between the garden, the house and the landscape outside. This villa in Monte Argentario develops the same design concept further, allowing the interior to flow into the garden. The landscape design is also influenced by the giardino all’italiana, meaning that the visitor has to search hard to find extensive flower beds forming part of the garden of a Tuscan villa. Instead the categories of vegetation preferred are forests, orchards, olive groves, shrubs and herbs.
The Building and its Relation with the Landscape
The project is the outcome of a fruitful exchange of ideas grown over the years between a longtime client and the architects. The main volume of this villa in Monte Argentario is set around a tower from the eighteenth century, the internal adjustments of which have been completely revised. The new volumes that host guests form an open-air courtyard delineated by horizontal and vertical wings. Here the atmosphere is emphasized by the warm color of rusted steel matched with the shades of gray of the stone walls. The old building covered by a thick mantle of ivy juxtaposes with the new prismatic structure of rusted steel and glass.The original building also preserves the intimacy of a few private rooms in the house, in contrast with the new addition where the rooms open onto the garden through sliding glass doors. The glass walls merge the interior with the exterior green space. The interplay between the rooms and the garden also help erase the visual boundaries between interior and exterior, so that the trees seem to grow indoors. The Garden Design The landscaping design, for which Lazzarini Pickering successfully collaborated with Paolo Pejrone, enhances the forest-like nature with plants like orchids, mosses and lichens, creating an articulated route comprised of wooden platforms and stairs suspended above the underbrush. The steps connect the house and the forest visually and extend the greenery surrounding the house. The topography of the site helps the design by providing wonderful vistas in different landings. As in typical Tuscan gardens, the landscape tends to be more formal near the residence and more informal as it extends into the forest. The route moves along an orthogonal geometry that runs across the entire property, emphasizing the position of pine trees, cork trees and holm oaks that populate the park. One of the most respected values of a Tuscan garden is that it is sustainable by using natives and plants that are suited to their climate. This means that plants thrive in the area with little water and maintenance; because plants are encouraged to grow in their natural growth habit, this reduces maintenance. The project evokes a sense of calm which is amplified by reflecting ponds, a pool and a play of reflections created by natural light. Within this villa project in Monte Argentario resides a stunning and awe-inspiring landscape that makes people want to stay forever. The simple, yet carefully considered design is timeless due to its perfect balance between the contemporary and traditional. This project beautifully demonstrates that to live in between the interior spaces and the fascinating nature is an almost transcendental experience.
Full Project Credits For the Villa in Monte Argentario:
Project: Villa in Monte Argentario Location: Tuscany, Italy Architects: Lazzarini Pickering Date of construction: 2002-2007 Photographs: Clive Nichols, Lazzarini Pickering Architetti
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