written by:
photos by:
June 3, 2009
Originally published in Groundbreaking Ideas in Home Design

Live/work is a centuries-old practice turned overused architectural trend. By melding history and innovation, Turin’s Basic Village offers up a compelling reinvention of the concept.

Along with his wife, Stella, daughter, two sons, and nanny, Marco Boglione lives large in a split-level 8,600-square-foot open space that includes his entire business operation (factory, office and retail) and a rooftop garden.
Along with his wife, Stella, daughter, two sons, and nanny, Marco Boglione lives large in a split-level 8,600-square-foot open space that includes his entire business operation (factory, office and retail) and a rooftop garden.
Photo by 
1 / 8
The second level is an open kitchen and dining room (described as the “lunch and dinner office” where colleagues can gather). "People think this setup is unusual, but there are millions of entrepreneurs who live right next to their warehouses," Boglione s
The second level is an open kitchen and dining room (described as the “lunch and dinner office” where colleagues can gather). "People think this setup is unusual, but there are millions of entrepreneurs who live right next to their warehouses," Boglione says. "The difference is that they make money and then build a hill with a fake villa on it."
Photo by 
2 / 8
Basic Village also includes a bank, a bar, a supermarket, and a salon.
Basic Village also includes a bank, a bar, a supermarket, and a salon.
Photo by 
3 / 8
The lively interior of the bedroom is evocative of the spaghetti Westerns that Boglione loved as a child.
The lively interior of the bedroom is evocative of the spaghetti Westerns that Boglione loved as a child.
Photo by 
4 / 8
“The shape of the house/bedroom [the background for wife Stella and daughter Maria, seen here] is the shape of American farm buildings," Boglione explains.
“The shape of the house/bedroom [the background for wife Stella and daughter Maria, seen here] is the shape of American farm buildings," Boglione explains.
Photo by 
5 / 8
Why put the bathroom/office inside a greenhouse? "I just liked the shape," Boglione says. "But you should have seen the guy's reaction when I told him to deliver it to the second floor."
Why put the bathroom/office inside a greenhouse? "I just liked the shape," Boglione says. "But you should have seen the guy's reaction when I told him to deliver it to the second floor."
Photo by 
6 / 8
Boglione's terrarium-like bathroom doubles as an office. Every morning he sits in his armchair with his laptop before venturing further afield.
Boglione's terrarium-like bathroom doubles as an office. Every morning he sits in his armchair with his laptop before venturing further afield.
Photo by 
7 / 8
"The closet is like water towers on the rooftops in New York City," says Boglione. "Simple. Basic. A shape a child could draw."
"The closet is like water towers on the rooftops in New York City," says Boglione. "Simple. Basic. A shape a child could draw."
Photo by 
8 / 8
Along with his wife, Stella, daughter, two sons, and nanny, Marco Boglione lives large in a split-level 8,600-square-foot open space that includes his entire business operation (factory, office and retail) and a rooftop garden.
Along with his wife, Stella, daughter, two sons, and nanny, Marco Boglione lives large in a split-level 8,600-square-foot open space that includes his entire business operation (factory, office and retail) and a rooftop garden.
Project 
Basic Village

If Turin was part of a word association test, your first impulse would most likely be “shroud”; your second, “cars.” The northern Italian city has largely been defined by the presence of Fiat, the Italian auto manufacturer that has employed the bulk of its citizens and crowded its streets with factories. But over the last several years, as Fiat began to lose its luster, Turin ran the risk of experiencing a major identity crisis.

In Detroit, Michigan—another city well known for its automobile production—such decline led to urban flight and cultural and economic decay. In Turin, a similar fate was palpable, but something surprising has begun to happen.

Turin’s city planners have been working to prevent industrial buildings from falling into disuse. And so today, instead of turning into a place unfit for venturing after dark, the city’s infrastructure is beginning to thrive (a move inspired in no small part by Turin’s scoring of the 2006 Winter Olympics). Factories—auto and otherwise—are being put to good use in ways that are so old-fashioned as to be avant-garde.

Take the case of Basic Village, transformed in the late ’90s from an old textile factory just a third of a mile from Turin’s city center into what may be the ultimate live/work space.

The lively interior of the bedroom is evocative of the spaghetti Westerns that Boglione loved as a child.
The lively interior of the bedroom is evocative of the spaghetti Westerns that Boglione loved as a child.

Forget a home office, Basic Village brings the entire business operation (factory, office, retail) of its owner, Marco Boglione, under one roof and throws in a bank, bar, supermarket, salon, roof garden, and residence for good measure.

“In Turin, we try not to abandon things,” explains Boglione, the chairman of BasicNet SpA, which is run from Basic Village. “Factories are within cities that are 2,000 years old. I want to reconvert, not demolish or abandon. With a little imagination you can do a lot.”

Boglione is an exuberant and eccentric 48-year-old whose career trajectory has taken place within these factory walls. In 1976, at age 19, he was hired as a marketing assistant at the Turin textile company Maglificio Calzificio Torinese (MCT), and soon after he founded his own venture, Football Sport Merchandise SpA (now BasicNet). In 1994, Boglione acquired MCT, and in 1996 began a collaboration with the alliteratively named architects Baietto, Battiato, Bianco to convert the once-struggling textile factory into a self-contained village.

“We executed the transformation bit by bit,” architect Armando Baietto explains. “It was important not to lose the urban memory of the factory and its character for the hundreds of people who had worked in and knew the place.” This acknowledgment of work-place culture and community was essential to the project (and highlights another way Turin differs from America’s fading industrial areas). “The environment here,” explains Baietto, “encourages interaction between people that can’t happen in an office building.”

Why put the bathroom/office inside a greenhouse? "I just liked the shape," Boglione says. "But you should have seen the guy's reaction when I told him to deliver it to the second floor."
Why put the bathroom/office inside a greenhouse? "I just liked the shape," Boglione says. "But you should have seen the guy's reaction when I told him to deliver it to the second floor."

The same can be said for Boglione’s own living space on Basic Village’s third floor. Baietto credits American loft living as an influence, while Boglione says he just wanted a comfortable place to work. “It was important to live within the company 24 hours a day.”

Along with his wife Stella, daughter, two sons, and nanny, Boglione lives large in this split-level 8,600-square-foot open space that features a hockey-friendly floor, a basket-ball hoop, a ping-pong table, a couch designed for eight, and an ever-changing wall mural that Boglione repaints whenever he’s inspired. Bill Clinton’s mug was up there for a while; now the wall features the jersey of the Italian soccer team sponsored by BasicNet in the World Cup. “That’s our best-selling shirt, which made me a lot of money,” says Boglione. “That’s why there’s a smiley face painted there with the word ‘thanks’!”

One of Boglione’s favorite quotes comes from Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Boglione spends a lot of time developing that vivid imagination from within his ­terrarium-like bathroom. Settled comfortably in his armchair, laptop at the ready, he runs BasicNet from here every morning before venturing further afield. Why put the bathroom/office in a greenhouse? “I just liked the shape,” he says. “But you should have seen the guy’s reaction when I told him to deliver it to the second floor.”

Though he spends hours working from this environment, Boglione conceives of his entire living space as a potential work area. “The concept was spontaneous. I just started to envision how all the different spaces could be used.” The second level is an open kitchen and dining room (described as the “lunch and dinner office” where colleagues can gather); the third level features an expansive roof garden with 360-degree views of Turin. “I guess you could say there are houses within the house,” says Baietto of the configuration. “Many nuclei around the central space. On a smaller scale, it echoes the idea of a city.”

“The shape of the house/bedroom [the background for wife Stella and daughter Maria, seen here] is the shape of American farm buildings," Boglione explains.
“The shape of the house/bedroom [the background for wife Stella and daughter Maria, seen here] is the shape of American farm buildings," Boglione explains.

At a certain point in the building project, Boglione realized his loft needed a bedroom. “First, I thought about sleeping in Leo the lion’s cage from the Turin zoo where I had spent a lot of time when I was a child,” he recounts. “I had my mother go look for it, but when the zoo closed down Leo’s cage was destroyed.”

Then, Boglione continues, “I imagined a mountain with a cave—you know The Flintstones? A cave house like that, with big rocks out front. I told some of my friends about it and they put me in touch with an artist who does special effects for Steven Spielberg. He drew me a fantastic house but I found out it would cost a million dollars.”

In the end, Boglione scrapped both cage and cave, opting instead for two simple metal structures. “The shape of the house/bedroom is the shape of American farm buildings, and the shape of the closet is like the water towers on the rooftops in New York City. Simple. Basic. A shape a child could draw.”
         
The lively interior of the bedroom is evocative of the spaghetti Westerns that Boglione loved as a child. The frontier connection is apt: Boglione’s experiment is blazing a trail for future factory transformations in Turin, and perhaps the good old US of A.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016
Modern small space Rhode Island cottage with landscaping and cedar cladding
Surrounded by nature, these cottages are tranquil retreats from the city.
February 03, 2016
The couple kept original touches, including the arch.
Historic archways belie these contemporary homes with physical reminders of each structure's storied past.
February 03, 2016
modern guesthouse in norway with angular facade and cutaway patio with spruce cladding and ikea chair
These houses make room for nature, not the other way around.
February 02, 2016
Modern kitchen with yellow sectioned walls and monochrome appliances
Whether it's a splash of color or bold strokes, this collection of interiors brightens up these homes.
February 02, 2016
Rust-washed concrete wall in Moscow apartment renovation.
This 590-square-foot apartment was stripped down to admit sunlight and dramatically reveal forgotten surfaces.
February 02, 2016
Nendo's collection of objects inspired by Star Wars
In a galaxy not so far away, Japanese studio Nendo has released a versatile collection of objects inspired by classic Star Wars characters.
February 02, 2016
Monti catered to his mother’s love of cooking by giving her ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratc
Sometimes the earthy colors and vivid grain of a wood like walnut is all you need to make a space.
February 02, 2016
renovated modern home in Austin interior kitchen
From California to Connecticut, these midcentury interiors still shine through thanks to the careful attention of architects and residents alike.
February 02, 2016
Outdoor dining area at a Saigon home.
A city home honors the local culture with communal outdoor space and reclaimed materials.
February 02, 2016