Matteo Thun's villa by Lake Maggiore is testament to his 'botanic architecture'

Set against a backdrop that is as scenic as it is serene, this residential villa in Switzerland by Matteo Thun boasts of an architecture that draws from its views of the lake and mountains.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Oct 21, 2021

In keeping with the Italian architect’s odyssey into “botanic architecture”, subtly fusing nature with architecture and interior design, Matteo Thun develops the Lake Villa to reflect and represent, while at the same time enabling unparalleled visual avenues to what it reflects or represents. Harboured on the edge of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, and buttressed by the mountains on the South side of the Alps, the villa’s design finds its muse in these two natural features, spelling unparalleled peace for its residents. “Everything revolves around stone, wood, water, and light,” states an official release, testifying to the architecture’s commitment to its natural commune, marrying the two through a statement of simplicity and understated luxury.

  • The volumes of the villa are designed to follow the sun | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The volumes of the villa are designed to follow the sun Image: Andrea Garuti
  • The villa sits at the edge of Lake Maggiore, and is designed incorporating sufficient greenery, in keeping with its natural surroundings | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The villa sits at the edge of Lake Maggiore, and is designed incorporating sufficient greenery, in keeping with its natural surroundings Image: Andrea Garuti
  • The villa’s design makes the lake its protagonist in the design narrative | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The villa’s design makes the lake its protagonist in the design narrative Image: Andrea Garuti

Akin to the architect’s own geographical bearings, Lake Maggiore stretches across two regions, its waters shared between Italy and Switzerland. The Lake Villa, though anchored on solid ground, seeks to make the lake its home, lending a duality to the architecture of the villa. When considered in a ‘skin and bones’ sense, the broadly dual materiality of the villa presents itself in new light: the solid, opaque walls of the house are set in stone to mirror the mountains that ground the residence, while porosity with respect to the natural communes of the residence is brought out through ample usage of glass, almost as if to reflect the transparency of the water atop which the villa seemingly floats.

  • The house adapts a dual materiality, primarily in stone, in an attempt to make the residence blend with the mountains backing it | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The house adapts a dual materiality, primarily in stone, in an attempt to make the residence blend with the mountains backing it Image: Andrea Garuti
  • The structure’s perimeter offsets to form a number of greened terraces that open to stunning views of the lake | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The structure’s perimeter offsets to form a number of greened terraces that open to stunning views of the lake Image: Andrea Garuti

This duality comes alive more prominently in the volumetric division of the residential architecture, and the mass it occupies. Floating and fixed at the same time, the architecture of the three level residence is designed to follow the sunlight, visible in the angular orientation of different ‘blocks’ of the house, and spacious collonaded walks designed as extensions of the interior space. The carefully designed building orientations maximise daylight penetration into the building, along with the sheen from the surface of the lake water it may bring. The heights of these conjoined masses correspond to the rise of the rock behind the villa, while the perimeter only gradually and marginally reduces as one approaches the access road and vehicle storage near the top. The facia of these masses is adorned with a series of porticos on the lower levels, and similarly framed terraces on upper floors, interpreted in the same vertically striated language of the porticos, not allowing for a traditional reading of the floors.

  • Surrounding porticos lend a feeling of continuity to the angularly aligned structure | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    Surrounding porticos lend a feeling of continuity to the angularly aligned structure Image: Andrea Garuti
  • In keeping with Thun’s brand of ‘botanic architecture’, the villa utilises existing natural features to enhance the built environment | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    In keeping with Thun’s brand of ‘botanic architecture’, the villa utilises existing natural features to enhance the built environment Image: Andrea Garuti

The villa’s footprint offsets to form spacious terraces that, territorially, blend into the lake through a stringent physical yet blurry visual boundary. One of the terraces towards the southern tip of the house culminates in a significantly direct, more literal interpretation of an infinity pool adjoining the lake, that although confined and temperature controlled, is designed to act as a natural extension of the lake. Set at the level it is, the visual perspective alludes to the two bodies of water being one, adding to the experience of serenity for its residents. ‘

  • The infinity pool at the edge of the residence creates the visual illusion of the two water bodies being one | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The infinity pool at the edge of the residence creates the visual illusion of the two water bodies being one Image: Andrea Garuti
  • The interiors of the villa too are designed to be minimalistic and exude understated luxury | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
    The interiors of the villa too are designed to be minimalistic and exude understated luxury Image: Andrea Garuti

Complementary to the visibly natural materiality of the residence underlined by ashlar stone masonry, the interiors of the house spell bespoke purity, a typical statement in Italian design. From sanitary fittings to upholstery, an underlying minimalism and a pursuit for luxury shines through, surrounded by even the smallest hint of greenery or shrubbery. “Rather than forcing it to grow where it does not belong, we pay tribute to nature and leave it to develop naturally,” states Thun’s mission statement on his brand of ‘botanic architecture’, an essential interpretation of the welfare driven principles of biophilic design.

An illustration of the villa’s design outline by Matteo Thun, prepared in watercolour | Lake Villa by Lake Maggiore | Matteo Thun and Partners | STIRworld
An illustration of the villa’s design outline by Matteo Thun, prepared in watercolour Image: Courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners

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