An Undulating Italian Villa Stretches Toward the Lakeshore
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An Undulating Italian Villa Stretches Toward the Lakeshore

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By Melissa Dalton
Villa Mosca Bianca by Design Haus Liberty unfolds in layers, its outdoor terraces cascading down to the waters of Lake Maggiore.

At the heart of Villa Mosca Bianca, located on the shore of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, is a 70-year-old bonsai tree in a double-height atrium open to the sky. From there, the interior plan ripples out into four different wings, each of which reaches into the landscape like a finger, describes London–based firm Design Haus Liberty. Frameless sliding glass doors and curving panels of glass connect the interior to outdoor terraces, their shapes echoing the forms of the house and stepping down to the water’s edge.

"The context of the actual site dictated the shape of the house," says the firm, as each arm stretches into pine trees or toward the water. A 7,000-square-foot basement anchors the home, which was raised three meters since the project is in a flood zone. Above that, there’s 3,500 square feet of livable space.

"The context of the actual site dictated the shape of the house," says the firm, as each arm stretches into pine trees or toward the water. A 7,000-square-foot basement anchors the home, which was raised three meters since the project is in a flood zone. Above that, there’s 3,500 square feet of livable space.

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Stepped outdoor terraces, with landscaping by Colin Okashimo Associates, wrap the house’s curves, and also act as a buffer for floodwaters.

Stepped outdoor terraces, with landscaping by Colin Okashimo Associates, wrap the house’s curves, and also act as a buffer for floodwaters.

Decorative brass rod screens shed interesting shadows across the facade. Deeper roof overhangs on the southern side of the home protect the interior from glaring sun.

Decorative brass rod screens shed interesting shadows across the facade. Deeper roof overhangs on the southern side of the home protect the interior from glaring sun.

The design process started with a study of the client’s daily schedule, with the interior plan organized around the rhythms of a typical day, which includes swimming, yoga and meditation, gardening, and reading. Additionally, "The house is 60-percent natural energy and water. There is a rain water collector in the ground and solar panels on the garden house," says the firm.

Curving glass walls blur the boundary between inside and out, with the meditative views of the lake prioritized. A light palette of natural stone finishes is calming, textural, and leads attention outward.

Curving glass walls blur the boundary between inside and out, with the meditative views of the lake prioritized. A light palette of natural stone finishes is calming, textural, and leads attention outward.

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In addition to being a dramatic focal point, the central atrium supports a rainwater collection system, and its operable glass facilitates passive ventilation. "It's also just peaceful watching it rain inside the house," says Dara Huang, founder of Design Haus Liberty.

In addition to being a dramatic focal point, the central atrium supports a rainwater collection system, and its operable glass facilitates passive ventilation. "It's also just peaceful watching it rain inside the house," says Dara Huang, founder of Design Haus Liberty.

The On the Rocks sofa designed by Francesco Binfaré for Edra has seating on both sides to maximize appreciation of the views.

The On the Rocks sofa designed by Francesco Binfaré for Edra has seating on both sides to maximize appreciation of the views.

A brushed brass fireplace surround subtly repeats the architectural curves. The bespoke ceiling fixture is by DH Liberty LUX, the lighting firm of Design Haus Liberty, and handmade by UK artisans. 

A brushed brass fireplace surround subtly repeats the architectural curves. The bespoke ceiling fixture is by DH Liberty LUX, the lighting firm of Design Haus Liberty, and handmade by UK artisans. 

In the kitchen, Hans Wegner chairs surround a vintage triangular marble dining table from Willy Ballez. The island pendants are by Davide Groppi, and the kitchen system is Rossana, an Italian luxury kitchen brand.

In the kitchen, Hans Wegner chairs surround a vintage triangular marble dining table from Willy Ballez. The island pendants are by Davide Groppi, and the kitchen system is Rossana, an Italian luxury kitchen brand.

The home office displays the owner’s art collection, including ceramic vases by unit89.

The home office displays the owner’s art collection, including ceramic vases by unit89.

The staircase is suspended on steel rods and borders the atrium, in order to bring plentiful natural light into the stair volume.

The staircase is suspended on steel rods and borders the atrium, in order to bring plentiful natural light into the stair volume.

The bedroom all but merges with the landscape thanks to frameless sliding glass doors from Sky-Frame.  

The bedroom all but merges with the landscape thanks to frameless sliding glass doors from Sky-Frame.  

"A lot of the interiors included natural stone—completely unpolished and unsealed that we really wanted rough and exposed," says the firm. "Because the house is so minimal and clean, we wanted to create contrast within it. Unsealed travertine is so much more beautiful and natural than when it’s completely machined over."

"A lot of the interiors included natural stone—completely unpolished and unsealed that we really wanted rough and exposed," says the firm. "Because the house is so minimal and clean, we wanted to create contrast within it. Unsealed travertine is so much more beautiful and natural than when it’s completely machined over."

The various levels of outdoor terraces create different opportunities for enjoying the lake, from socializing at the water’s edge to private contemplation closer to the house. 

The various levels of outdoor terraces create different opportunities for enjoying the lake, from socializing at the water’s edge to private contemplation closer to the house. 

Villa Mosca Bianca ground floor plan

Villa Mosca Bianca ground floor plan

Related Reading: A Curving Coastal Home in Australia Mimics the Sweeping Landscape

Project Credits:

Architecture: Design Haus Liberty (@dhliberty) / Roberto Manzetti

Landscape Design: Colin Okashimo Associates

Lighting Design: DH Liberty LUX

Interior Design: Design Haus Liberty

Doors: Sky-Frame