VILLA CAMBINI

Research
Livorno, Toscana, Italia – Data in progress

The building, constructed in the early 20th century, is located on the seafront of Livorno. The property, surrounded by a large garden, consists of the main building, the villa, and an annex used as a garage and warehouse. The villa spans three above-ground floors. The renovation project includes the creation of a new roof, the ‘recomposition’ of the main facade and secondary elevations, and the redistribution of the interior spaces. The building has a square plan, and it is difficult to precisely determine its construction phases. However, the building materials and formal analysis support the hypothesis that the overall volume is the result of a palimpsest rewritten by numerous renovations, expansions, and ‘restorations,’ as confirmed by the discrepancies in some materials and typological and chronological solutions. Apart from the expansions, the main facade integrates and elevates the entire building, transforming it from an insignificant architectural pause along the seafront into an elegant early 20th-century villa. The main facade, characterized by a sandstone portal topped by a tuff balcony, will undergo refurbishment. The project does not include changes in the color scheme between the decorative architectural elements of the facade (framing, string courses, brackets, etc.) and the facade planes: the main facade will be strictly white. The secondary elevations are bare and devoid of ornamental typological elements; the interruption of the decorative elements on the facade is evident at the rusticated corners of the main facade. These are characterized by the resizing of openings and the construction of ventilated walls, all according to a strict compositional scheme. The project redesigns the secondary elevations respecting the original geometric relationship between solids and voids; the cladding, made with modular white glass panels arranged in a rational orthogonal grid highlighted by the connecting spaces between them, enhances the design. Mitigated by the translucent white glass cladding, the ‘dematerialized’ facades aim to reflect the surroundings. A separate chapter is dedicated to the roof, where the architects have designed a copper-colored aluminum sheet envelope that extends seamlessly over the entire volume, from the slab of the top floor to the facade cladding and window frames. Completely permeable, the continuity is emphasized by the rhythm of the panels extending from the roof to the perimeter walkway floor. Starting from the client’s request for a livable, transparent, light, and permeable space, closely connected between outdoor and indoor, yet functional and safe, the designers sought to create human-scale architecture: a lively and communal place, the right balance between landscape, light, and structure, embodying the ideal of sustainable and harmonious beauty. The large external windows consist of sliding glass panels and horizontal slatted sunshades that also serve as facade cladding. Made of aluminum, they function as solar screens with a vertically pivoting knee-joint opening system, fully integrated into the roof/wall. The sunshade consists of two overlapping parts that fold together, connected by a ‘knee joint,’ so that during the opening movement, the lower part folds towards the upper part to manage light intake inside the rooms and provide the necessary protection from the sun’s rays in the summer. When fully open, the system forms an overhanging element useful for shielding the window from sunlight and precipitation, while when closed, the shutter screens the opening ensuring privacy and security. The project also includes the landscaping of the park, including the refurbishment of the garage and warehouse building, the construction of an irregularly shaped swimming pool, and the layout of green areas with the planting of new native trees and shrubs, and the sowing of a lawn. A large parking area will be paved with interlocking elements. The perimeter walkways around the pool will be made of open-joint wood (permeable), while various paved areas will be made with concrete elements. The intervention takes into account the historical significance of the building envelope, and the design research aims to contextualize the project through the use of a current and contemporary language distinct from the architectural quality typically offered by the urban image of the area, which has always aligned with ‘modest’ design quality interventions, sometimes far removed from those fundamental principles of architecture: it is not conceivable to intervene without necessarily accounting for ‘contemporaneity’.