This is a project by mzc+ and it is located at Villorba, Treviso, Italy. Project's program: Renovation of Villa. There are twenty four images for Villa Zanetti.
Cultivating the past by dialoguing with the present:
The designers at mzc plus explain: “Despite the complexity that is inevitable in every project for the restoration of ancient buildings, the construction process did not require any particular variation of the idea that was developed in the initial project, because restoration is the core business of our firm.
The most delicate operations were required by the roof system, the construction of a parking garage, and the basement floor relative to the barchessa. Because of the particular hydrogeological nature of the soil in the province of Treviso, with headwaters north of the walls, the city has very few underground spaces, not only because they are so expensive to build, but because of the constant maintenance required by the risk of water seepage. In fact we did hit water one and a half meters below ground level. In order to avoid damage to the houses of the nearby ancient burgh of Sant’Artemio, we had to work with costly special diaphragms. But the decision was a good one, because it made it possible to exclude automobiles from the grounds completely.
Another significant structural problem we were forced to address was the deterioration of the roof structures: the main framing was replaced with salvaged wood.
The credit for the excellent quality expressed in the renovation of the villa and the grounds must in any case be shared with the local craftsmen from the Veneto, who worked with us for the Pivato construction company: as experts in local materials, they showed a masterly skill in implementing ancient methods of construction, allowing us to pursue a sort of “zero kilometer” interpretation of architecture. This is not only an important strategy towards sustainability, but also leads to a global understanding of the project, disregarding the difference in scale between the whole and the detail, and allowing the designers to establish an ongoing dialogue with the craftsman: this is the lesson taught by the architecture of Carlo Scarpa. which so profoundly distinguishes the Venetian approach from, for example, the Lombard approach. Whereas Vittorio Gregotti theorizes the difference between architecture and design, the lesson of architecture in the Veneto is a direct derivative of local craftsmanship and rural minimalism, and was historically generated by the typically Venetian details (for example the marmorino finish) which spread down throughout the territory from the patrician villas. This uninterrupted dialogue between the architect and the craftsman has always allowed the Veneto to disregard the difference between scales of design, making it possible to interpret every operation as both a creative and constructive opportunity. This is also true in the Anglo-Saxon world, which uses the word design alone independently of the scale it refers to, leaving room from one situation to the next for the most harmonious response, appropriate to different functional requirements.
This concept of design deriving from the peculiarity of regional experiences (art, craftsmanship, industry, agriculture) is thus the matrix internationally recognized as true “Italian design”. In these years of significant experiences abroad (in London, Libya, Russia) we have recognized this approach and the demand for this particularity. As for the theme of sustainability, the technical systems of Villa Zanetti are based exclusively on geothermal principles, using cold water to avoid carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. But the emphasis remains on the centrality of Nature which, from the very beginning, and in agreement with the client, has been the inspiring principle of our project”.
The main building of the complex, which as requested by the clients, has maintained its original characteristics wherever possible, focused the restoration on ensuring greater structural stability.
After the necessary mapping, and a chromatic and granulometric analysis of the Venetian terrazzo flooring on the ground floor, which was impossible to preserve, construction began from the foundations and subfoundations, which were completely rebuilt in concrete with two parallel edge beams cast along the side of the perimeter wall and the walls of the central spine and tied – with steel connectors cast with special cement – to the original brick foundations.
A slab was then built to support the vented slab of the floor resting on the ground, consisting in a plastic igloo substructure for the vented airspace and a concrete slab above for the later installation of the electrical and HVAC systems and screeds.
The insulation against creeping humidity in the walls was resolved with a mechanical horizontal cut and the appropriate injection of chemicals, making it possible to restore and dry the existing mortar and bricks.
The decision to use vented plaster was a further measure to facilitate the evaporation of residual humidity and ensure greater durability for the brickwork in contact with the earth.
As for the roof, the cornice that crowns the façade had been responsible for a number of leaks, because the flashing that connected the roof and the cornice proved to be most vulnerable to rainwater.
The beams were in fact damaged near the ends supported by the bearing wall, making it necessary to replace them, and this was done with new wood, given that the reinstallation of the horizontal ceilings would hide them from view.
In order to prevent the crowning cornice from pulling outwards because of the lateral thrust generated by the new beams, a supporting edge beam with a steel tie-rod was stretched from one side of the building to the other.
There was no use of collaborating slabs, and given the low ceilings of the interiors, the choice fell on a system of plywood boards. Two new layers have been laid over the existing wood floors, in a perpendicular installation pattern, and have been mechanically anchored to the perimeter walls with steel brackets.
As for the finish work, after the installation of the electrical and mechanical technical systems, the original scheme was reinstated with wood flooring and Venetian terrazzo. To bring more light into the interiors, all the materials were applied in a slightly lighter shade, whereas the plaster on the walls and on the ceiling, which included plaster cornices and distinct chromatic fields, were restored and repaired.
The interior doors and windows were restored, whereas the external ones, in natural varnished wood, were replaced with new white windows and doors, which respond to the specifications for thermal and acoustic insulation.
Whereas the new boarding rooms, which had no particular decoration, were designed in an austere and minimal style, the offices are decorated with modern glass and steel furniture; the large dining room on the ground floor was meticulously restored to preserve the original appearance as closely as possible, faithfully reproducing the rich fabrics that played an important part there.
To complete the restoration project for the villa, most of the antique furniture and chandeliers were restored, and the new curtains were added to comply with the general decorative scheme of the building. The technical systems, completely new, control the interior microclimate; the most important rooms are cabled and equipped with audio/video connections.
As for the outdoors, the original yellow ochre of the façades of the villa was replaced with white stucco, using two different tones of grey to highlight the more valuable stylistic elements and to restore greater legibility to the proportions of the volume, in relation to the grounds and the adjacent barchessa.
The barchessa and the other annexes:
In the case of the annexes, the restoration process was complicated by the decision to create an underground parking garage and a number of service spaces.
The particular nature of the soil, which has scarce consistency and is soaked withh water, made it necessary to sustain the existing structures by constructing a retaining wall out of piles.
As for the barchessa, one of the most important operations concerned the roof, given that the choice of preserving the wood structure made it necessary to rebuild the struts with antique beams, whereas the original king post and tie beam remain. As in the case of the villa, a concrete edge beam was also cast near the cornice.
The final decision to plaster the intrados in white, highlighting only the trusses, was made with the precise objective of providing an exact perception of the fascinating proportions of this building.
Because it was necessary to avoid the presence of columns in the auditorium, the roof slab was made out of steel, with a main structure consisting in beams and a mixed slab in corrugated metal and concrete; the roof of the building connecting the villa and the barchessa was made out of wood with a collaborating slab.
The latter supports the suggestive terrace of the coffee tasting area, covered by the large white leaf of the roof, whose columns, shaped like stylized trees, reflect the naturalistic metaphor of the project. To lighten the weight, the brise-soleil that create the horizontal pattern are made out of aluminium, and the bearing structure out of steel.
Again because of the water in the soil, an equally complex endeavour turned out to be the underground space created to house the technical equipment for the systems near the small wooden building separated from the northern façade of the barchessa, and connected to it by a concrete technical tunnel built to house the HVAC equipment. The generative part of the mechanical system includes a heat pump, brought to the required temperature by a geothermal well; it uses electrical power to avoid gas emissions into the atmosphere.
The total renovation of the interiors in the annexes made it possible to use more contemporary materials and stylistic elements than in the villa.
Almost all the windows and doors are made of painted white wood, except on the southern side in the loggia, where they are made of steel in a corten finish.
The finest space from a historic point of view is the entrance hall of the barchessa, which was once the entrance for the horse-drawn coaches. The original tempera decorations on the walls and ceilings have been restored. Two heads of putti found in the villa have been placed In the niches on the inside; the doors have been reused but for double protection new glass doors have been added on the inside; they have no frames so that they do not disturb the architectural perception of the whole. The floor, originally made out of textured cement, has been dignified with elegant stripes of Istrean stone featuring different surface treatments: this flooring continues into the reception area and the secondary entrance, to the south, and outdoors extends along the entire footpath leading to the villa, hemmed in on the south by a pool of water and to the north by a system of irregular fringes, that interweave with the grounds.
The reception area is the point of departure for the vertical connections, which include a staircase in Istrean stone, with walls in a marmorino-finish stucco, and by an elevator with a steel cabin and glazed doors, silk-screened with the suggestive monochromatic image of the trees from the villa grounds.
On the upper floor, the hallways to the offices feature brushed oak flooring tending to a light greyish colour; the walls are decorated with the same silk-screened images as the elevator and are lit exclusively with LED lights.
The hallway has no ceilings to allow views of the restored trusses, whereas the covering over the offices serve as acoustic insulation. A prism made of fabric has been installed over every booth, bringing natural light from the roof into the offices.
The most important office, located at the very end of the barchessa, enjoys the perquisite of a large terrace clad entirely in wood.
The bar offers a tight dialogue with the outdoors thanks to the presence of large openings that provide visual connections with the terrace and the park. The delicate green and gold decorations of the back room have been restored and highlighted by a new lighting system.
In the restaurant room, which features three large natural wooden tables, custom-designed for the space, the original square wood tiles, in three different wood essences, have been restored.
Particular attention was dedicated throughout the project to the theme of lighting. To avoid overburdening the original language of the spaces, apart from the technical lighting on operative tables, the lighting is provided exclusively by recessed Led lighting fixtures, which are longer lasting and save energy.
The furniture in the common areas was custom-designed, with an emphasis on oak – in the reception desk, in the shell of the auditorium, at the counter and on the ceiling of the bar, in the countertops for the sinks in the bathrooms – and on the colour white, used in various materials such as the Corian of the reception desk and the table in the auditorium, the wood of the closets, the metal of the special finishes.
Particular attention was also paid to the construction of the auditorium and the kitchen. The auditorium features a pressed wear-resistant carpet in two colours, with a weave that is reminiscent of the random stripes developed in the entrance hall; the ceiling, with recessed lighting fixtures, consists in a shell finished in brushed oak wood slats to form, as the designers explain, “a sort of large nest”, which serves as an acoustic corrector and absorber that works in synergy with the acoustic panels on the wall.
The kitchen, located on the ground floor and serving the restaurant and bar, is conceived like the domestic kitchen of a villa. In fact, despite the choice of professional industrial-type kitchen equipment, wood was used as a finish material, and the large kitchen hood contributes to the domestic feel of the space.