LocationLake Como, Italy
Architect in ChargeDominique Lorenz, Daniel Hummel
Text description provided by the architects. The CastelMirabel, sited on the highest point of the historic centre of Olgiasca, on the Piona peninsula, and whose foundations date from the 13th century, was purchased and converted in1975 by the owner at the time. It was sold to the new owner in 2008.
The impetus for the current project was the intention to divide the building, conceived as a single unit, into two completely separate residences. Each residence received a separate entrance and its own terrace. At the Southeast, topographically-lowed corner of the property, a new direct access was created from the narrow street to the East terrace.
The offer is complemented by a switchable unit at the Northwest corner of the building with its own direct access, making a third unit. This consists of a bedroom and bathroom which can be connected to either of the other residences, or which can be used to link the two residences together. The rooms on the lower level and the East terrace are available to the entire house and can, if required, even function as a fourth unit. This spatial concept allows the building to be used in a wide variety of flexible configurations.
The installation of generous bathrooms and kitchens has brought the previously minimal sanitary facilities in line with modern requirements for wet rooms. The existing rooms were modified according to precise plans in order to interconnect them and to create sightlines throughout the building and in every cardinal direction. The removal of the obsolete loft in the upper level opens up the massive height of the roof space as part of the internal space.
Before the conversion the building had a highly introverted and closed character. The rooms were rather dark and, with the exception of the tower room, there was absolutely no connection between the interior and the breath-taking view to the South. The relationship between the interior and exterior spaces was strengthened using various measures. On the Southern side, facing the view, new windows were opened and existing openings were enlarged and turned into French doors, giving each level a view over the lake. The new entry stairs also improved accessibility to the house from the surrounding village streets.
A further focus of the conversion is the structural renovation of the extensive damp damage. The main renovation measures were the installation of a heating system, insulating plaster, the replacement of all windows, new waterproofing, heat insulation and covering of the roof, new roof drainage, drainage along the facades of the lower level and the installation of raised flooring for all components in contact with the ground. The existing natural stone masonry was cleaned externally and damaged joins were replaced.
Great care was devoted to the development of the details for the roof drainage and the structurally-sound and watertight connection between the windows and masonry. These details were arranged in such a way as to preserve the significant architectural characteristics of the building. For the limited roof overhand and the shale roof covering, for example, the guttering was integrated into the roof surface so as to be invisible from the street below. In addition, the plastered window borders, the plastered strip under the roof overhang and the one-sided shutters were used to make the building appear nobler and more individual than before the renovation. This refined the building’s architectural statement and strengthened its significance as a central and defining point of the village’s structure.