30.4.2024

We rural

Palazzo Valgorrera, nestled in the Poirino hamlet, between Turin and Asti in the flatlands, is a quaint rural spot with medieval roots. It's laid out around an old castle and the well-defined structure of the grand farmhouse.

The insertion into the context and the approach to the existing

As time rolled on, it went through some changes due to suburban development, keeping its essence as a place connected to the land, embodying the cozy vibe of a country village. The castle tower peeks out, a bit weathered, among the vines. The farmhouse complex, split among different owners, has various faces: some parts untouched and left to the elements, some stylishly restored for living, and others still busy with farming activities, giving it a real, lived-in feel but also seeing the addition of new elements like functional storage spaces.
Dealing with only half of the southern wing of the farmhouse and the adjacent land, any intervention has to consider “what is left untouched”. The approach is cautious and mindful, not aiming for a grand revival but rather showing great sensitivity to preserving the charm of the rural surroundings, the landscape, and the traditional way of life. Time seems to stand still. The farmhouse structure remains intact, with redevelopment happening below – a restoration of the residential part and the addition of functional boxes that don’t mess with the original exterior. A polycarbonate layer wraps around the north side, facing the courtyard. This area, crucial for socializing in the farmhouse layout, gets a makeover as an extension of the new purpose, now featuring a pool, sunbathing space, and a bocce court. The south side of the wing takes on a new role, toning down the historical introspection of the complex by introducing new openings for natural light and making the green space more enjoyable, now revamped as a private garden. Even the entrance to the reception finds its place here, ensuring the restored wooden door remains the dedicated access to the courtyard.

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A program in the making

The client’s challenge is to imagine a guest house that’s both innovative and inviting, a place where people can reconnect with a region by experiencing the essence of staying and sharing immersed in the rural context and in touch with the surrounding countryside. Hospitality, events, shared cuisine are just a few envisioned ideas for this creative hub, designed to be a stopping point for cycling routes, sports or contemplative activities, and an ideal location for team-building and social gatherings.

Implicit sustainability

The sustainable vision of the business project directly corresponds to the architectural approach. It starts by appreciating and preserving everything the opportunity offers, without any preconceived judgments. The goal is to introduce the new as a lightweight and reversible element, creating a space that’s flexible and can adapt over time.

Materials and technological solutions

The added structures are self-supporting wooden frameworks using the balloon frame design, equipped with rock wool insulation and finished with fiber-cement sheets coated in natural lime plaster, both on the inside and outside. The floors boast a dense arrangement of slender beams, measuring 4×20 cm, crafted from laminated beech wood.

The polycarbonate skin, that marks the warm area, is mounted on a handmade steel structure, alternating between openable and fixed sections. Two spiral staircases made from perforated sheet metal link the upper levels. An elevated walkway, constructed with wooden beams and a metal railing, connects the restored residential part with the new volumes at a higher level.

The restoration of the existing residential section emphasizes the exposed brickwork and the unique geometry of the vaulted spaces. Keeping the interior warm during winter is ensured by an electric heat pump combined with an underfloor heating system.

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