Project: The White Tower House
Architects: DOS Architects
Designer: Lorenzo Grifantini
Structural engineers: Alessandro Rizzo, Francesco Liaci
Interior design: Lorenzo Grifantini/Allegra Figus
Doors and windows: Campesato SRL
Internal lighting: Viabizzuno
Pietra Leccese Stone: Pimar
Swimming pool: SYS piscine
Location: Gagliano del Capo, Italy
Photo Credits: Carlo Carossio
BigSEE Architecture Award 2021 – Winner, Italy, Residential architecture
The White Tower house is located in Gagliano del Capo, a quiet village in the heart of Salento, the southernmost region of Apulia that stretches at the “heel of Italian boot” in south-eastern Italy. The house is located in the regional park that stretches between the rocky Adriatic coast and the white beaches of the Ionian Sea.
The White Tower House is designed by architect Lorenzo Grifantini, director of DOS architects, an established architecture studio based in London with an international portfolio, assisted by his wife Allegra Figus for the design of the interior. Aiming to escape the hustle and bustle of their London city life, their vision was to create a haven of tranquillity for their family in a place they most love: Salento. Having spent years searching for the ideal place, Lorenzo and Allegra discovered a small plot of land in Gagliano del Capo, a small white town minutes away from the Adriatic coast. The site is adjacent to the centre of the town and yet tucked away, hidden behind San Rocco church.
Living in a metropolis like London, building ex-novo in Italy, in a complex urban context, required great determination and a pinch of madness.
The White Tower House is located within a dense urban context in the proximity of the historic town centre and along a footpath, named Ciolo, that links Gagliano to the sea.
From inception, the design of the house sought to establish a dialogue to the existing urban fabric. The design of the house reflects the relationship between the openness of the pedestrian streetscape and the privacy of the daily family life.
The fabric, while occupying all the available area (780 sqm footprint), establishes a balanced equilibrium between the interior spaces and the exterior patio. Following the tradition of the Roman domus, the aggregated volumes of the house overlook an internal courtyard. The interplay of solid and voids also produce a network of smaller patios that intimately connected single rooms to the exterior.
The central courtyard, however, is the real heart of the house, a place of conviviality and play, where the swimming pool and the carefully selected vegetation reproduce the presence of natural elements.
Overlooking the patio, a 12m high tower where all the main bedrooms are located. The tower is in line with the bell tower of the church of San Rocco and, while hosting all the bedrooms, it offers suggestive visual access to the sea. This element is a reminiscent of the Norman watchtowers, a typical and fascinating element of the coastal landscape of Salento.
The spaces surrounding the patio are connected to the exterior through large double-glazed sliding windows establishing a continuous flow of the interior into the exterior and, vice versa, rendering the exterior as part of the most intimate rooms of the house. The threshold between interior and exterior is marked by the presence of an external canopy made of galvanized iron and covered with bamboo, that connects all the volumes of the house in a single architectural element.
The architecture of the house is deliberately austere to allow the natural elements to naturally fill the space. The interplay of light and shadow onto the white surfaces of the volumes produces an ever-changing backdrop to the life inside the house.
Each and every element of the house contribute to its cohesive architectural synthesis: the volumes, the canopy, the planters and the interior furnishings embedded in the masonry, the pool and the fireplace dialogue with each other creating a unique architectural block.
This playful exchange between the natural elements and the architecture, the inside and the outside enhances the spiritual well-being of the inhabitants.
The White Tower House was built with great attention to achieve environmental well-being and minimize heat loss.
The White Tower House is raised by one metre from the ground level allowing natural ventilation, also from below. The presence of double-glazed sliding windows favours natural ventilation in all rooms of the house. The imposing height of the rooms (4m) favours the exchange of hot and cold air within the house. Air circulation and ventilation are integral elements to the whole design of the house.
The walls are thick (45cm) and provide the necessary thermal mass to the entire building. The design favours the constant natural ventilation across the different environments so that natural cooling can be achieved in the Summer and rigid temperatures can be mitigated in the Winter.
The use of materials has been conceived to enhance the architectural idea of a fluid and bright space.
The floor is made of Leccese stone, the typical local stone, which is characterised by its high porosity which render its surface light absorbing without refracting. The stone has been used in both the central court and the adjacent ones to allow visual continuity and fluidity in the use of the space.
The frame of the windows and the apertures are in wood so that the austerity of the project can be softened while creating a connection with the bamboo canopy.
All bathrooms, kitchen, sink tops have been designed to measure. The wall surfaces of the bathrooms and the monolithic block in the kitchen (4m x 1m) have been covered with Microtopping, a polymeric cementitious coating by Ideal Work, to create the effect of a continuous surface.
The furnishing of the house is a mix of the best artisan tradition of Salento (weaving, carpentry, blacksmiths) and the best Italian manufacturing industries (Viabizzuno for lighting, Campesato for windows and doors).
Material Used :
1. Doors and Windows: Obiettivolegno/ Campesato SRL
2. Internal lighting: Viabizzuno
3. Stone: Pimar
4. Photo-Installation, Interno # 64, 2019: Giuseppe Pietroniro
5. Swimming Pool: SYS piscine
6. Microtopping finishes: Dominic Caputo
7. Swimming pool: Sys piscine
8. Architectural pictures: Carlo Carossio