Albino, Italy – How innovative can you get with 25 m2? Italian architect Francesca Perani’s creativity overcame size limitations for a restoration project in Albino, a town in Bergamo. By focusing on utility ‘stylistic’ resourcefulness, Perani was able to effectively transform the existing space – formerly an open porch used for storage – into a extra small apartment for a family living on the property. As the current circumstances would have it, it has to come to serve as a COVID shelter for one of the clients, a doctor who needs to maintain safety distancing from her family.
The ‘urban cabin’ is an extension of a modern villa, which was built in 1968 by architect Armen Manoukian and renovated by Perani in 2008. While the recent intervention retains the original exterior shape, Perani introduced new openings, updated the colour of the façade and built a ‘second skin’ – a perforated metal grid that folds freely and defines a private garden space. The structure itself is a reference to ancient Persian arches and sun shadings, a nod to the Italian-Iranian heritage of the family.
Because of the limited interior space and ‘extreme narrowness’ of the building, flexibility and multi-functionality were a priority for the client. Perani developed a custom interior concept which centres on two monochromatic areas in ‘open contrast’, utilizing low-cost materials. The 19-m2 living room is entirely clad in Oriented Strand Board – reflecting an attention to thermal insulation – with touches of glossy blue resin, a material that reappears in full force in the bathroom. Stand-out additions in the kitchen nook are 1960s handles and a printed gres marble countertop. ‘Diagonal lines define the design of the kitchen top and suspended window frames,’ says Perani, ‘assuring a dynamic corridor where the twin wooden alcoves facilitate a frontal conversation.’
Perani’s work exemplifies that flexibility, privacy and comfort can be achieved no matter the size or budget of a residential project.
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