“Bourgeois” Existenzminimum in a renovated flat near Vicenza

AMAA reinterprets the theme of Modern minimalist housing amidst the material and figurative suggestions of a refined artisanal process evoking Arts&Crafts research.

An interlocking game reminiscent of the engineering of a Matryoshka doll, the reflections of Modern masters (from Jean Prouvé to Le Corbusier to Charlotte Perriand) on minimum housing and the material preciosity of the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe: this is Golden Box, the interior renovation project of a small dwelling in Arzignano in the province of Vicenza, realised by young award-winning studio AMAA which, taking its inspiration from a challenging context, aimed to push the research on living experience beyond the limits of traditional conventions.

The intervention is located in a small early 20th century flat, where the clients wanted to create a petit refuge for the weekend. Once the Palladian floors and ceiling decorations had been restored and the narrow space had been freed from the existing partitions, a single volume measuring 5mx5m, set down like a "deus ex machina" irreverent of the wall alignments (except for the Corso Mazzini side) stands out in the centre of the room like a precious jewel box containing all necessary functions of domestic life (kitchen, bed area, bathroom and lounging area) and dissolving the usual suffocating separation between rooms and corridor. A curved glass window at the corner of the bathroom, in the direction of the only window looking east, and a porthole that interconnects the “sleeping area” and “living area” create points of permeability in the box, providing unexpected views.

AMAA Collaborative Architecture Office For Research And Development, Golden Box, Arzignano, Vicenza, Italy 2024. Photo Mikael Olsson

If the study of proportions is rooted in the Existenzminimum's quest for compactness and rationality, the figurative lexicon, the preciousness of the materials and the scrupulously handcrafted execution process (which lasted almost three years, in close collaboration between designers and local craftspeople) repudiate the serial reproducibility and mechanicisms of the Modern Movement, invoking instead the uniqueness of the creative act and the continuity between conception and execution that belonged to Arts&Crafts, starting with William Morris and extending to Henry Van de Velde's research, thus reinterpreting minimal housing in a "bourgeois" and exclusive guise.

AMAA Collaborative Architecture Office For Research And Development, Golden Box, Arzignano, Vicenza, Italy 2024. Photo Simone Bossi

The box enclosure, entirely clad in acid-etched brass with custom frames and elements concealing joints and hooks, dialogues with a plurality of precious materials in green colour (in homage to the coppered roof of the S. Giovanni Battista church by Michelucci in Arzignano): from imperial marble cladding in the bathroom and kitchen, to textured paint, fabrics and velvets that give the tiny space a soft, seductive charm, easing the epic architectural dispute between form and function.

Project team:
Marcello Galiotto, Alessandra Rampazzo (partners); Francesca Fasiol, Costanza Favero, Serena Bolzan (collaborators)
Operae - a Marine Interiors Company

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