31.5.2021

Casa di Confine / Border Crossing House

The rectangular building, covered by an asymmetrical double-pitched roof, runs from east to west, in close relation with the surrounding cultivated land. The presence of numerous openings, different in shape and function, turns the house into a sort of device that connects the hilly landscape with the intimate, domestic space.

The Border Crossing House designed by Simone Subissati is the outcome of a reflection on inhabited space seen as a threshold: the house relies upon its relationship with the outdoors, intended as a territory extended to the extreme of one’s gaze.

No fences guard the Border Crossing House. It is located at the edge of the town of Polverigi, where cultivated fields are. Grass reaches the very edge of the house, which is surrounded only by a thin pavement. A strip of decorative perennial grasses ideally envelopes the house, as if it belonged to the fields (cultivated with wheat, barley, field beans, sunflower).

“The idea was to overflow, to break the boundaries, without following conventions whereby the private living space is separated from the agricultural work space.” Simone Subissati

The ground floor, dedicated to the living area, is characterized by the presence of a deep red coating (the main body is made of iron painted with an anti-rust primer). The upper floor, in addition to housing the sleeping area, also includes a large open space contained by a light frame covered with a micro-perforated and pre-tensioned membrane. It distinguishes itself by the color white and it gets completely illuminated at night.

A large central portion of the volume is left open on the ground floor and can be crossed from side to side. In addition to this opening in the building, large sections of the metal enclosure easily turn into apertures thanks to the the windows, which, when opened, are orthogonal to the facade. This allows the living room, kitchen and spa to establish a direct relation with the outside space. Thanks to these devices, the volume of the building appears almost to be hovering over the ground. This perception is also enhanced by the presence of the swimming pool, placed perpendicular to the house and surrounded by grass, reminiscent of the water-collection tanks used for irrigation.

The upper floor is accessed by a wooden staircase with an elementary structure, painted white. From it, one accesses the most private area of the house, where bedrooms are hosted. For the rooms, instead of simple windows, Subissati designs visual devices, which he calls “diaphragms.”

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As on the ground floor, windows here do also allow one to contemplate both sides of the landscape. Although very small in size, these openings have been designed to create surprising optical effects. A play of mirrors, arranged to completely cover the side openings of the windows, multiplies the views of the surrounding landscape. Protected by a simple chicken coop net, a balcony leads to a space where the winter garden and a second living room are hosted. This section of the building is made of wood and covered with a micro-perforated membrane that during the day allows natural light to filter inside the house and at night turns the Border Crossing House into a sort of large lamp.

“I was fascinated by the rural houses of my grandparents and relatives in the Marche countryside, characterized by a straightforward simplicity, a true essentiality that is very different from today’s trendy poetic of minimalism. They were houses that could be crossed from room to room, the work space on the ground floor, connected and open on both sides.” Simone Subissati

A playful attitude led Simone Subissati to think of the project as an assembly process. In this sense, the Border Crossing House tends to become a metaphysical element, a sort of archetype of the rural house elaborated through a constant reference to ‘memory’ and ‘play’. Simone Subissati’s project, devoid of any vernacular temptation, is committed to contemporaneity.

Materials, furniture, sustainability.
Guided by a strong conceptual – rather than formal – inspiration, Simone Subissati avoids any contemporary mannerism in his choice of materials and furnishings. The furniture is all custom designed by the architect himself as his aim was to create a space that would feel “both eternal and open towards the future.”His compositional alphabet describes a sense of openness and lightness, while also offering a sense of flexibility that involves the whole house from its spaces to the furniture.

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ADMARES

The structure of the building is made of steel, except for the volume on the upper floor, accommodating the open space, made of laminated wood and covered with micro-perforated metal sheets.

The remaining part of the upper floor is finished with a self-cleaning plaster.

The pilasters from which the structure on the ground floor takes shape and to which the swings of the doors and of the windows are aligned, also accommodate drains and ventilation ducts. A rainwater collection network is connected with the underground tanks for water supply. The building responds to passive bioclimatic standards, as it allows a thermal gain in the cold months and a natural cooling in the warm months, thanks to cross ventilation (no air conditioning is provided) and the chimney effect.

“For the Border Crossing House I imagined a space that would feel as if it was “inherited.” I wanted it to be the least opulent it could be: it is meant to feel “as if it had always been there” though being contemporary and in many ways very distant from tradition. So essential that you can almost think of it as a temporary place, as if it were an outdoor park. A light, flexible space that, as if it was there already, could now be reclaimed. A space without frills and without luxury, just like the buildings of the rural tradition where people both lived and worked.” Simone Subissati

The furnishings are in solid ash wood, used with all its parts – bark, knots and splits – and dyed white. Or in pre-finished board panels of pine (for doors, doors and secondary partitions, such as the walk-in closet that also acts as bed headboard and bathroom / spa block on the ground floor). The kitchen countertops, the sink and the basins are custom made in cement and quartz, designed by the architect.

The short film.

“Rustico” is the title of the short film made by director Federica Biondi and dedicated to the Border Crossing House designed by Simone Subissati. “Rustico” is the visual storytelling of an architecture driven by a conceptual perspective and by the search for a sense of openness. Border Crossing House aims to redefine the categories of comfort and luxury according to a renewed attention to environmental issues. Right from the title, it is evident how the minimal and even “rustic” character of the building – which does not mean it is vernacular, but rather essential – responds to what luxury means today in architecture.

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“Luxury is how we use the spaces. It is the kind of lifestyle implied by the project and by the site. It is not an ostentation of fancy and precious artifacts.” Simone Subissati

Border Crossing House is a space that welcomes life, that finds its raison d’être in the mutual relationship with the surrounding environment. The regionalist heritage of “Rustico” does not imply a provincial attitude, but it is rather related to the capability of staying in contact with nature. “Rustico” is an ode to the life unrolling in the landscape framed by the windows of the house. Taking place during a harvesting day, the short film puts at the center of the story the passage of time and a space in harmony with the surrounding environment.

“Our origins are not only the ones within our family, but also the ones we build with the house we feel at home in (rather than the one where you were born), with the place in which we feel in connection with the universe, Nature. A place where we can be pure once again.” Federica Biondi

Played by Pietro Conversano, the dweller of the house is not an abstract character, rather he is a person with needs and desires. We see him bathing in water, chasing the sunlight, revealing the spaces of the house designed by Simone Subissati from room to room, from morning ‘till night.

 

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