by Pallavi MehraJun 22, 2022
In the stunning green landscape of Switzerland’s quiet Origlio village, Mino Caggiula Architects have designed an atelier for Ecuadorian sculptress Alice Trepp. Designed to mirror the thought and philosophy of its client, the atelier takes root in a gently descending slope, framing breathtaking views of the expansive green pastures, distant mountains and a lake below. The site harking back memories of ancient Greek theatres, which boasted of incredible sceneries and cautious contouring, inspired the architects to deftly weave the dwelling according to the contextual orography. Built to merge naturally into the slope of the terrain, architect Mino Caggiula and his team assiduously ensured that no apparent hiatus is established between the new build and the immediate vernacular architecture. Rather than creating a mere box, the architect wished to “marry the land in the most sinuous and harmonious way possible”.
The design concept for Atelier Alice Trepp, a home-cum-studio, relied on establishing a peaceful symbiosis with nature by following and extruding the contour lines of the site. As such, the volumes take shape from the careful analysis of exiting site morphology, which resulted in raising two contour lines towards the sky as green roofs and wedging the atelier within the aperture. These green roofs, arising from the terrace like configuration of the home, spill vegetation over onto the building elevation.
The walls and roof planes curve to the site, creating organic forms into which the interior spaces are inserted. Using fair-faced reinforced concrete as the primary building element, the atelier exhibits an inherent sculptural quality complimenting its owner Alice Trepp. The interiors are replete with sunlight owing to the ample glazing following the building’s solid sweeping curves, while the deep concrete roof overhangs provide shade. In addition, the glass facade maximises on unencumbered views of the surrounding landscape, which when combined with the solid concrete, further enhances the sinuous building form. Trepp, a sculptor and an artist, believes Mino Caggiula Architects have designed “a house full of motion,” just like her sculptures.
The construction of the ‘organic’ programme pivots around a central core – ‘a cenote.’ Puncturing the volume, this terrestrial sinkhole like depression is open to the sky, featuring a tranquil pool of water and overhanging vegetation. Being partially open, the cenote gives the Atelier Alice Trepp the feel of a natural cave, allowing the interior and exterior spaces to blend together, interacting with the light play and natural context.
Reflecting and refracting in a pool of water, the cenote creates light shows; the change in colour and intensity marking the passage of time. With its encircling shape and play of light, coupled with vibrations, views, and smells from the surrounding landscape, the cenote creates an immersive environment ideal for artistic inspiration and contemplation. In the words of Mino Caggiula Architects, an architecture firm based in Lugano, this composition allowed them “to liberate the artist, as if she were lying on the water, embraced not only by the territory but also from all the sensorial aspects fundamental for an artist in the transformation of her works of art, perhaps even before her inspiration”.
While Mino Caggiula served as the design architect, Alberto Bernasconi was the project architect, and Andrea Maldarizzi took over the role of executive architect.
Name: Atelier Alice Trepp
Location: Origlio, Switzerland
Design architect: Mino Caggiula
Project architect: Alberto Bernasconi
Executive architect: Andrea Maldarizzi
Design team: Laura Martinez, Maurizio Civelli
Client: Alice Trepp
Category: Private house
Project year: 2019
(Text by Saamia Makharia, an intern at stirworld.com)