by Jincy IypeNov 22, 2022
Typically associated with American second homes that proliferated during the Second World War, the A-frame can trace its history from traditional Japanese farmhouses to Maori meeting houses of New Zealand and ski chalets of Switzerland. It’s practical form is an ideal weather protection system and its pitched roof replaces walls, due to which contemporary architects still consider the structure to be an ideal symbol of weekend getaways from the city. In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, amidst one of Colorado's most pristine landscapes, Italy-based noa* (Network of Architecture), founded by Lukas Rungger and Stefan Rier etches their personal interpretation of the distinctive clean geometry of the A-frame to create a villa for three generations.
Nestled amidst the snow-capped mountains and soaring pine forests, the 600 sqm holiday home is designed to be a cosy refuge where one can come together as a family and reconnect with nature. With the challenge of accommodating three generations under one roof, the studio had to balance communal spaces and private spaces. In a sequence of additive triangular volumes, which converge to create a single structure, the interplay of volumes creates a multifaceted spatiality with increasing levels of privacy on higher floors. In the design process of relating the units to the whole, a 30m long triangular prism acts as the central node for the interconnected volumes. “We have implemented the clear geometry and outward openness typical of the A-frame, but at the same time, we have accommodated smaller, unexpected, but still very comfortable spaces within the larger volume. It's a space concept similar to a matryoshka system," explains Andreas Profanter, partner and project leader at noa*.
While the form is perceived as a repetitive amalgamation of triangles, the layout utilises the unique spatial arrangements. With the basement consisting of the parking spaces and cellar rooms, the ground floor with communal spaces, the first floor with bedrooms and the attic with the kids’ play area, the private villa brings together spaces in blurred boundaries. Entered from the East, the ground floor hosts a living room, a freestanding stairway, a kitchen with a cooking island and two offices overlooking the inner courtyard with a barbeque area. The studio conceptualised the large fireplace on the ground floor, as the heart of the family villa, which serves as a focal point between the spacious kitchen to the east and the generous living room to the west. However, the most interesting element of the structure seems to be its relation to the surrounding natural landscape. Through an intriguing geometry, the villa opens up to the serene outdoors at most edges and corners, thereby pursuing ever-changing perspectives indoors. In the process of connecting with nature, in the living area, the scenic outdoors are integrated into the interior design of the space with the use of exterior rock as an internal element.
Contrasting the openness of the ground floor, the upper floor comprises of five bedrooms aligned along the roof's ridges. In an attempt to provide more privacy, the bedrooms are placed in a layout that consists of a completely independent private villa for the couple and a family villa for their children and grandchildren. The play area for the kids occupies the attic, and can be approached by a hidden stairway that can only be accessed from the larger bedroom within the family villa; this once again reflects the notion of creating blurred boundaries that the studio is attempting to create. "In agreement with the clients, we designed each room with maximum autonomy and comfort. Fluid spaces, double heights, and a few surprise elements”, states architect Andrea Dal Negro, who was part of the villa’s design team.
With the interior design of the holiday home embracing a natural palette and materiality, the project adds to the architect’s statement, yet subtle style of expressing a narrative between nature and architecture. While the aim of noa* was to create a place where intimacy and togetherness meet and where one can find himself in a unique symbiosis with the surrounding landscape, the form catches one's primary attention. In an era where architects argue the merits between concepts of architecture and form, the Colorado Villa lies in the in-between of Form follows Function and Form follows Beauty.
(Text by Sunena V Maju, intern at STIRworld)