Mountainside panorama

Sustainable villa dug into mountainside with view of Lago Maggiore

by Amy 09 December 2011 Sustainable Buildings
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    The site for this five-bedroom house is located in Solduno, an old village with traditional stone-clad roofs, close to Locarno, Switzerland. The amazing setting between the mountains and the lake gives the site a clear orientation with the main views towards Ascona and the lake, Lago Maggiore, to the front, and the steep mountains to the back.

    The house opens up towards the valley, embracing the great panorama, while the backside of the house is dug into the mountain. The desire to add sufficient external shading to the facades led to a large cantilever of the roof and the Skyframe.

    The Skyframe will eventually be filled in with ranking wine and other plants as well as textile sun shading elements. Using plants offers the benefit of increased day lighting levels during wintertime. Both the roof cantilever and the Skyframe create a dynamic impression, lifting the house off the ground, shaping the perception of the building and furthering its integration into the dramatic setting.

    The two levels of the building both focus on the panoramic views they offer. The living room and kitchen open up to the west terrace which has a view of the lake and gets the afternoon and evening sun. The entrance to the house offers good orientation with views to the kitchen, into the living room and up the stairs.

    A large west-facing window upstairs even guides some evening sunlight into the entrance area. A pantry, guest room and bathroom have been located towards the back of ground floor level. The upper floor consists of four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a south-facing balcony and the balcony above the entrance.

    The house has been designed (and insulated) to low energy standards and no conventional heating has been installed. Instead, there are only solar collectors on the roof, providing energy for the low-temperature under-floor heating and most of the year also for hot water.

    During the cold and cloudy winter days, additional energy is generated through a heat exchange incorporated in the fireplace. Energy from the solar collectors is being preserved in a 4000L water tank in the basement. Roof and walls have been insulated up to 400mm inside and even the basement has been wrapped in a layer of insulation. Due to its unconventional and impressive sustainability features, Casa Locarno was awarded Winner of the Green Good Design™ Award 2011 and selected as one of CNN's top twelve 'greenest buildings of 2011'.

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