The use of innovative building methods and adaptive reuse allowed traverso-vighy architetti to realise a sustainable, socially engaged and energy efficient project in Vicenza, Italy.
Located on the outskirts of Vicenza and only 3km from Piazza dei Signori, the Bertesina courtyard by traverso-vighy architetti is a typical, rural, nineteenth century Venetian courtyard, a project where environmental, social and agricultural values intersect: an 8-hectare forest which encloses vegetable gardens and farmland, a social farm, an agricultural food processing center and shop, a bed and breakfast, a visitor’s center for educational activities and residences. Its construction process has been a virtuous experience shared by clients, designers and builders, where the use of innovative building methods and adaptive reuse allowed the project to reach objectives in sustainability, resource management and energy efficiency.
The project aims to intervene into the natural context as lightly as possible, absorbing from the surroundings visual, energetic and wellness potential for its future inhabitants. The concept of sustainability was a driving force behind the social intentions of the project, encompassing the wellbeing of its users, the choice of building materials and construction techniques, and energy production and use.
The space of the historic courtyard is defined on the south edge by a long, linear wall in local stone built using traditional methods. The wall acts as a filter between public, social functions that occur in the courtyard and the private programs of the new residences. A ‘barchessa’, an open building historically used to house livestock and hay, can be found in the courtyard. Water emerges from spouts along the barchessa and travels through stone channels running the length of the wall, programmatically also acting as a filter and separator. The new residential volumes are articulated linearly: light structures, hinged onto a stone wall which sits on a large, underground floor conceived to house the residents’ vehicles. A visual connection with the exterior landscape, the sun’s orientation and the control of natural ventilation are the main factors that informed the design solution. The roof covering is shaped to control natural light and maximize its photovoltaic potential.
On the southeast, a simple volume clad in irregular larch planks completes the courtyard: it holds the cultural center, dedicated to the education and appreciation of the surrounding wooded landscape. Its glass wall guides the visitors’ attention towards the outdoor scenery and a network of trails inside the woodland. The barchessa and historic buildings contain the bed and breakfast, gathering spaces for the social farm, food preparation areas and market spaces for the sale of the agricultural goods produced on-site. From a construction standpoint, the intervention was approached with an innovative spirit, using the development of light, prefabricated construction methods which allowed the project to be concluded in a limited time frame. The materials, produced by numerical control systems, are traditional and chosen to easily blend into the surrounding environment.
Bertesca courtyard, Vicenza, Italy
Program: mixed use
Architect: traverso-vighy architetti – Giovanni Traverso e Paola Vighy
Design team: Lucia Angelini, Cristina Baggio, Chiara Cavalieri, Stefania Dal Bianco, Giulio Dalla Gassa, Giulia Maria d’Arco, Aurelia Marzano, Grace Rome
Structural engineering: Loris Frison
Installations: Gruppo SIA
Security: Giorgio Schettin