A Minimalist Residence Rises From Medieval Italian Ruins

Stone, concrete, and walnut come together to create this elegant abode in Urbino.

In 2017, Italian firm GGA Architetti wrapped the three-year renovation of a cluster of ancient buildings on one of the highest hills in Urbino. The new system rises from the remains of medieval communes. The renovation kept the exterior forms and stonework of the buildings intact, then made subtle tweaks to cue the modern interior. 

The rectilinear form of a floating concrete bench sits atop the red concrete pad that defines the exterior courtyard.

Wooden slats inserted in the stone shell hint at the stripped-down, more modern interior, while also creating privacy and protection from the sun.

There are three floors to the combined buildings: a subterranean level that hosts a cinema room, an exhibition gallery, and a gym with a spa; a main garden level with the primary living spaces; and an upper floor with a master suite and two ensuite bedrooms. The architects' intent to keep the exterior as uncluttered as possible extended to the placement of the garage and main entrance. "In order to avoid the parking of cars and the sight of any means of transport at the garden level, the main entrance is located in the large garage in the basement," they write.

While the exterior "faithfully interprets the typical formal themes of this Italian region," says the architects, the inside is much more modern and minimalist. Reinforced concrete walls and ceilings meet a red concrete floor, which blends with the courtyard outside.

Across from the sofa, a concrete fireplace surround is topped with a custom walnut wall treatment.

The walnut wall extends up to the second floor, where the landing is surrounded with a glass railing.

A walnut-clad studio is tucked behind the wall in the living room.

Streamlined walnut storage also anchors the eat-in kitchen.

All of the window and door openings frame composed views of the surrounding countryside, acting almost as paintings hung on the walls.

Upon entering the master suite, the tub in the adjoining bath is just glimpsed.

Custom walnut cabinetry in the sleeping area warms up the concrete shell.

The use of walnut, red concrete, and reinforced concrete remains consistent throughout the master bath.

A walnut window frame captures the view outside.

Project Credits:

Architect: GGA Gardini Gibertini Architetti

Builder/General Contractor: BBF Costruzioni

Structural Engineer: Ing. Lorenzo Silvagni

Landscape Design: GGA Gardini Gibertini Architetti

Lighting Design: Rossi Bianchi Lighting Design

Interior Design: GGA Gardini Gibertini Architetti

Photographer: Ezio Manciucca



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