Architect Francesco Moncada's surprisingly modern renovation in Syracuse, Sicily, is home not just to himself, his girlfriend, and his brother, but to a suite of clever design moves. In Renovate Today!, our latest special issue, we take a look at the myriad types of flooring he used to create a contemporary home in an 18th-century building. Now check out the bedroom.
For centuries, Spain’s Canary Islands have been the last outpost of civilization before European mariners sailed headlong into the vast Atlantic. That same sense of horizon-bound, seaside fortitude marks the singular homes that a few hardy residents of the Canary Island of Tenerife have literally built into the coastal rock. Whether humble cottages teetering on craggy promontories or actual volcanic caves out of which sunbaked homes have grown, this brand of beach living is about as far from Costa del Sol condos as the Canaries are from the Spanish mainland. Photographer Gunnar Knechtel takes us inside some of the most unusual homes we’ve ever seen and shows us an inspiring intersection of design and living that blossoms up from the cracks.
With its architectural history reaching back to the ancient Greeks, Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, has plenty of old bones. In 2001, while still students, native sons Francesco (now an architect) and Alberto (a photographer) bought a crumbling building that dates from the 18th century. Seven years—three of them spent on construction—and one UNESCO permitting process later, the Moncada brothers moved in: Francesco on the top two floors and Alberto on the first. Now the two globetrotting brothers, as well as Francesco’s girlfriend, architect Mafalda Rangel, use the place whenever they’re in Sicily. The modern interior, replete with furniture of Francesco’s design as well as a few Italian classics bought on eBay, serves as the perfect counterpoint to the weight of the town’s considerable history. The trio gives us a tour of their home and hometown, showing that where they live extends beyond the front door.
When Cecilia Tham and Yoel Karaso of Habitan Architects bought their first-floor apartment in an 1894 block of the Fort Pienc neighborhood of Barcelona in 2005, they knew they were taking a risk. Casa Alí Bei was a bargain because it is afectado (“affected”)—–that is, the land is zoned for redevelopment. A baby (Hanna) on the way, the possibility of being evicted, and a tight budget necessitated a canny renovation strategy, yet one that still honored the dazzling turn-of-the-century tile work and ornate moldings. A stone’s throw from Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar, the apartment, like the neighborhood, has been reborn as a patchwork of old and new. Tham tells us the story.