An Unconventional Vertical Home Open to the Sky by Westway Architects
“The interior renovation of a spacious apartment located in one of the most beautiful residential areas of Rome stands out for the careful study of its details, which have produced a bright, usable and open environment. The project has created a housing microcosm that is complex in terms of its concept and implementation, and whose geometric design gives the ensemble an almost sculptural quality.
Westway Architects have transformed the 180 square metre (1,937.5 square foot) apartment into a dynamic space offering rich and stimulating views, thanks to its broad and airy dimensions and vertical progression towards the private terrace, which is the true protagonist of the project. The client’s goal was to build a master bedroom, a single bedroom and a guest room on the upper floor and to redesign the living area around this hub, without constraints. The clear architectural language pursued by Westway Architects has produced bright, white and geometric interiors that are made dynamic by means of openings and shifting perspectives.
The compositional logic of the project is based on simplifying spaces and shapes. It triggers reciprocity between rooms by creating partial views and visual pathways, in an intense dialogue between the interior and exterior. This Roman apartment once again confirms the basic assumption contained in Westway Architects’ philosophy: – that a project arises through the relation between spaces and their dynamic experience.
Recomposing the housing levels
The project arose from the reshaping of the two connections with the upper floor. The intervention was twofold: a spiral staircase entering the apartment from the upper terrace was removed and replaced by an external staircase directly joining the two terraces, becoming part of the outdoor area. A very compact staircase was put in place near the entrance, which filters the kitchen from the living room and leads to the upper floor. As in all projects by Westway Architects, the staircase is — as architect Maurizio Condoluci says — “a fascinating, sculptural, and not-merely-functional design object”. Its role, in interiors designed by the Roman firm, is to “shift perspectives”.
Having established the two stairways, the distribution of spaces was easily defined by gravitating all connections around the living room. The kitchen is filtered by the internal staircase and separated by a frosted glass wall. It features a fixed pane that acts as a parapet for the staircase and two doors that allow the free circulation of inhabitants and guests between the living room and kitchen itself.
Opening the space, in a dialogue between the interior and exterior
Broadening of the spaces by means of glass partitions filtered by curtains also occurs between the master bedroom and living room. These areas are visually connected by transparent floor-to-ceiling glass and screened off when necessary by blackout drapes, providing for cross-views that make the dwelling almost permeable and usable both inside and out. To further emphasize this perception, an “L”-shaped glass wall of about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) was created in the living room to gravitate around the two-sided fireplace which, functioning as a hub, visually opens onto the exterior and amplifies the space.
The painted steel exterior staircase with outdoor timber steps leads to the upper terrace overlooking a cantilever landing. This does not interfere with the design of the steps connecting the two heights of the terrace. The staircase rises in a square hole that visually connects the two floors and whose perimeter is marked by a sequence of laminated glass sheets.
The upper part of the terrace houses a miniature recessed swimming pool, a shower whose hob is concealed beneath the decking, and a solarium. On the lower part of the terrace, as well as a large kitchen counter featuring a barbecue and sink, there is also a living area with sofas and a parasol. A shelter of glass sheets supported by stainless steel cross vaults and secured to a painted steel frame completes the scene. The whole terrace is bordered by a collection of pots, flower boxes and parapets concealed by continuous cladding in the same wood as the floor decking. According to architect Maurizio Condoluci, the perimeter structure of the house “is the crowning element of the building — the new green facade that erases the surrounding built-up area”.
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