As Cascina, our 200-year-old farm house refurbishment in Piedmont, Italy concluded construction last month, a visit rounded off the phase and allowed a glimpse to the efforts of the construction team on site.
The building speaks in a robust and earthly palette, revealing old stone faces between grainy lime plaster and a proliferation of local Chestnut timber that form pieces of joinery and door and window frames. Binding building to its rural context, the weighty material tectonic is punctured through brick walls that allow an array of shadows to cast onto the interior walls and floors.
Formed from gnarled, unsawn trunks of chestnut harvested from the surrounding forests, the existing roof was supported on two common trusses forming a cruciform at their apex. Purlins and rafters were arranged at intervals to support the interlocking tiled terracotta roof. Reuse plays a dominant role in the structural strategy as well as in the rustic hung roof tiles, retaining its sense of place. Keeping the original timber structure in place, along with its crude heavy iron straps, plugs and plates, is a reminder of the tectonic simplicity of the timber structure. Elements of the new roof are inserted between the layers of existing components to form a new, fully insulated whole.