This Utopian “House in the Orchard” Is Part Home and Part Greenhouse
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This Utopian “House in the Orchard” Is Part Home and Part Greenhouse

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By Anna Squier
Located in rural Tuscany, this striking yet simple home hovers gently above the agrarian landscape.

La Casa Nell' Orto—House in the Orchard—was a unique architectural project from the onset. Clients Spartaco and Cinzia, both Tuscan dentists, desired a little home where they could occasionally reside and grow vegetables and other plants. They engaged LDA.iMdA architetti associati to create a house capable of cultivating their favorite hobby.

The fully glazed facade reflects the surrounding landscape while providing transparency and daylight to the interior.

The fully glazed facade reflects the surrounding landscape while providing transparency and daylight to the interior.

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The pure, simple house is a subdued form amidst the vast, rural landscape.

The pure, simple house is a subdued form amidst the vast, rural landscape.

The site had been degraded by urban sprawl, so the architects sought to reactivate the true sense of the place while integrating innovative construction methods. The project was not only an exploration of physical form, but also a study in how a simple architectural form relates to the function and the identity of those residing within it. 

Surrounded by abandoned rural buildings and neglected wasteland, the home is a bright example of modern regrowth.

Surrounded by abandoned rural buildings and neglected wasteland, the home is a bright example of modern regrowth.

The home is situated at the axis of old and new, abandoned and rebuilt, neglect and care.

The home is situated at the axis of old and new, abandoned and rebuilt, neglect and care.

The simple, pure external shape was just the starting point for this sustainable greenhouse of the future, which blends house and garden. LDA.iMdA architetti associati executed the project in phases, and the first realized volume was the enclosed housing unit, which offers 904 square feet of living space.

Steel stairs provide entry to the living spaces, gently touching the land below.

Steel stairs provide entry to the living spaces, gently touching the land below.

The living quarters are light and bright with a neutral finish palette.

The living quarters are light and bright with a neutral finish palette.

LDA.iMdA architetti associati designed the home's envelope with an inclination in the sidewall that makes the most of the building's footprint and negates the need for a traditional rain gutter. Every detail reflects a thoughtful solution related to the function of the form.

A dark wall decorated with artwork stands as a powerful contrast to the otherwise white interior.

A dark wall decorated with artwork stands as a powerful contrast to the otherwise white interior.

Wood planks and thin ceiling-mounted lights create a linear pattern which draws the eye outward.

Wood planks and thin ceiling-mounted lights create a linear pattern which draws the eye outward.

To reduce the impact on the surrounding landscape, the floor of the home was lifted. This slight elevation also solved hydraulic problems related to greenhouse function. 

The enclosed house provides a retreat for the clients to reside in during the summer and winter months while enjoying the land on which they garden and plant.

The enclosed house provides a retreat for the clients to reside in during the summer and winter months while enjoying the land on which they garden and plant.

The interior has a strong connection to the surrounding landscape.

The interior has a strong connection to the surrounding landscape.

With phase one complete, the homeowners look forward to the next phase of construction, which will increase the building's footprint with greenhouse elements capable of cultivating vegetables in the winter, further fusing house and garden in an innovative formwork. The hope, as stated by the architects themselves, is that such forms may become a model for a fluid and dynamic society. 

Although innovative in construction, the simple and pure gabled form relates to the character of the rural setting and the agrarian use of the building. Elevated slightly above the ground, the home inflicts minimal intrusion on the existing landscape.

Although innovative in construction, the simple and pure gabled form relates to the character of the rural setting and the agrarian use of the building. Elevated slightly above the ground, the home inflicts minimal intrusion on the existing landscape.

Floating steel stairs hover above the ground below. 

Floating steel stairs hover above the ground below. 

At night, the simple volume glows like a lantern in the landscape.

At night, the simple volume glows like a lantern in the landscape.

Illuminated from below, the home is a shining light against the dark sky.

Illuminated from below, the home is a shining light against the dark sky.

The project's elements are represented in this diagram, which includes outdoor living areas, a housing unit, a greenhouse, and a vegetable garden.

The project's elements are represented in this diagram, which includes outdoor living areas, a housing unit, a greenhouse, and a vegetable garden.

Related Reading: 

10 Greenhouses That Will Inspire You to Grab Your Gardening Tools

10 Modern Gardens That Freshen Up Traditional Homes

Project Credits:

Architect of Record, Interior, and Lighting Design: LDA.iMdA architetti associati / @lda.imda 

Builder / General Contractor: CardelliBros

Structural Engineer: Daniele Nesti 

Cabinetry Design / Installation: Mazzoni studio d'interni