Immersed in the Umbrian landscape behind Assisi, a modest farmhouse is surrounded by a steep olive grove. The slope overlooks the Sterpeto Castle and the Umbrian valley, bordering a small forest to the north: a perfect location for a holiday home surrounded by greenery. The clients wanted to build a swimming pool and, at the same time, reorganize the garden and all the outdoor spaces, which had been left in a state of neglect by the previous owner.
The lot has retaining walls and a large slope that divide the property into three parts. The stone building is positioned on a plateau set between an upper olive grove and one at a lower level. These three areas, although contiguous, are difficult to access. For this reason, it is crucial to reorganize the outdoor spaces connecting the different areas of the property.
The intervention area makes relevant the reflection on what one sees and perceives, but also on how one is seen and perceived from the surroundings and from the valley. For this reason all newly built elements are positioned and conceived in order to reduce the visual impact through strategic choices related to the use of orography.
An existing natural gully was used to insert the volume of the pool and hide it from the valley. Wooden pergolas serving the garden are set back along the existing retaining wall or in the intermediate level where the swimming pool is located. A first pergola, placed in direct relationship with the house, is a lively space where you can eat outdoors and where a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen are located. A smaller pergola is placed nearby the swimming pool and its solarium, to provide shade and relax. The technical space is located below the pool’s volume: it was decided to integrate these spaces into the built body of the pool itself in order to reduce the number of elements to be built, thus limiting the consumption of land and the impact on the landscape.
In the intentions of the project, the garden becomes a distribution hub to connect and harmonize the olive groves above and below the farmhouse. The orographic continuity is restored through the remodeling of the garden and the creation of a terraced level at -130cm from the existing house. This terrace hosts the swimming pool and generates a system for crossing the lot in the upstream-downstream direction. In fact, next to the pool there is a staircase that leads to the lower olive grove and to the base of the pool volume, where the access to the technical compartment is located. The upper pergola, overlooking the farmhouse, hides an access staircase to the upper olive grove behind one of the stone perimeter walls.
Simple and essential gestures in the landscape encourage the experience of the surrounding morphology. The rejoining of the two olive groves in the northern edge of the lot, led to the design of a “rustic” garden able to harmonize the surrounding forest and olive trees with newly planted native species.
In collaboration with Diego Antonini. Images by Giovanni Andrea Coni.