Sicily is a supreme synthesis of what an island can be and what a continent can encompass. Beyond its coast, within the Aeolian archipelago, lies a mountain amidst the sea – Filicudi – an island flooded with light, surrounded by the sea, caressed by the wind, and aflame beneath the surface. Look at the architectural project on this lovely island – Villa Ca’ Paradisola by UNA Architecture Studio.
Villa Ca’ Paradisola by UNA Architecture Studio
Building on Filicudi is not a reckless act but still an audacious one. Finding such an intensely characterized nature and contemplating how it can be interpreted and lived within is a challenge. Especially when the house, which one is attempting to define in form, sits in a position that can only be described as acropolitan – lacking columns, without Phidias, without Caryatids. Domestic needs aside, the virtue informing life choices in a place of such essential solemnity is modesty. In this somewhat hermetic and yet conceptual condition, one must contain any subjectivity. The house has thus been conceived as a tool enhancing our perception of the surrounding environment.
Resisting the temptation to impose a new architecture on the promontory, Ca’ Paradisola has been designed by incorporating some pre-existing elements and drawing from a repertoire of typological solutions found throughout the Aeolian Islands.
The house is discovered into two separate building volumes, divided by a small internal street that frames a portion of the sky, and thus of the universe, “framed” as works of art.
The two volumes – one dedicated to the more domestic functions of living and the other entirely occupied by a single room from which the other Aeolian islands and Sicily can be contemplated – present minimalist monochromatic interiors. The spaces are characterized by smooth reflective surfaces in fine lime plaster and the presence of niches, which incorporate indirect lighting, offer minimalistic storage solutions.
The central sector of the living volume is occupied by a room that extends for the whole width of the house and hosts a professional Officine Gullo cooking range, in green. A shade akin to the sage green that characterizes the house’s window frames.
Isolated at the ultimate summit of the mountain, the living room is internally delineated by a built-in sofa, on which among soft linen cushions, an unexpected “cushion” of travertine – a row slate – constitutes the base of a fireplace that celebrates the presence of a chimney in this house. To allow the gaze to slide out into the immensity of nature, all the sharp edges of this volume are rounded, inducing an overall effect of a “liquid” space.
Connecting Interior and Exterior with Curved Surfaces
The intention of this house to be integral to nature translates into the desire to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior through curved surfaces but also by ensuring a continuity of the flooring surface, which – without thresholds or changes in level – extends uniformly across all internal spaces and onto the three terraces overlooking the sea.
In these terraces, two elements ideally reconnect the “Sicilian continent” to the South American one. Two curves, one on the vertical plane and one on the horizontal pay homage to Oskar Niemeyer and Burle Marx. The first is an integrated chaise longue within the “bissuoli” that delimit the eastern terrace; the second is a flower bed containing a gigantic agave and cacti. The latter one – white and curvilinear – stands out in shape and material from the infinite terraces that appear on the horizon an endless topography of parallel lines, constructed over millennia to retain on these volcanic rockssoil for growing spelt and a few vines.
The light permeating this place, and the winds passing through it, are the only protagonists of an architecture that renounces to speak “loudly” in a landscape in which silences must remain inviolable.
Location: Filicudi, Aeolian Islands, Italy
Design Studio: UNA Architecture Studio, Giulia Foscari
UNA Team: Giulia Foscari (architect, founder of UNA), Fabrizio Esposito, Alberto Spinella
Photography Credits: DSL Studio, Melania Dalle Grave, Agnese Bedini design
Text: UNA Studio / Officine Gullo Press