This two-storey house by Italian firm duearchitetti is built on a steep terrain in the hillside landscape of Varese, Italy. The lower level presents a longitudinal and hypogean development integrated in the hillside as a natural stone terrace. Here you will find bedrooms, studio and fitness zone. Centralness and individuality characterize, on the contrary, the upper level of the living area that, as a rock is resting on the structure and thus remains fixed, has become the principal entrance from the high-positioned street. On this level the outdoor spaces take a longitudinal trend: towards north the pool is going out from the section of the stone wall, on the opposite side a large terrace opens itself on the top of the garage.


“The project challenge, which we have felt important from the beginning, has been how to succeed in managing, in the inside of the house, all of the outside nature, the many types of sky with different and strong weather conditions, without conflicting emotions,” explain architects Nicoletta Binello e Paolo Gelso.

Observation and protection have become the objectives of the project. The will to involve all the outside beauty is coexisting with the opposite approach to create intimacy and concentration inside the house.


On one side you have large glass surfaces which as a segmented diaphragm opens the house to the scenic nature, on the other side wooden wings and functional elements that are carrying us into the organism of the house, tracing flowing and continuous passages along the glass surfaces for then to enter the semi-darkness of the inner spaces.


The definition of the organism has also taken shape from the comprehension of the dynamics of two persons’ common life with different rhythms and characters: identify and understand each person’s liberty, the areas to divide and those to protect. This is transferred into a flowing, continuous space without interruptions. The borders are not defined, the spaces are changing following the rhythmic moments of the day. Big full-height sliding panels are modeling ideal rooms, creating fissures for company, light and curiosity like a dynamic play. We didn’t want it to be necessary to “close a door” in order to isolate a room.


A further control of the project has been the attention to the dynamics of the natural borders of light and shadow which are drawn on the floor at the different moments of the day. The concrete floor of the upper level emphasizes and highlights the contrast between light and darkness; the borders in the afternoon seem sharp and precise. On the contrary, the wooden floor of the lower level absorbs and mitigates the differences; the shadow tones are softer, the atmosphere more relaxing.

Outside near the windows of the living room the pool water is reflecting the variability of the sky. Inside, within a short distance, the fire of a brazier placed on the floor creates heat and gives company in the cold winter days.

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all images © Simone Bossi