Beautiful Italian farmhouse is built around a 60-year-old tree
Influential Italian architect Carlo Scarpa once said "between a tree and a house, choose the tree." With its recent renovation of a beautiful Italian farmhouse, Carlo Ratti Associatti decided to choose both, transforming the home and arranging its interior around a 60-year-old ficus tree.
The Greenary (named by combining greenery and granary) was created in collaboration with Italo Rota and is located on a 2.5-hectare (roughly 6-acre) rural plot near the city of Parma, northern Italy. The project was commissioned by the CEO of Mutti, which happens to be the company that CRA designed the tomato factory for, which is made from tomato jars, and a key focus was ensuring the tree (which which wasn't native to the site but carefully replanted from elsewhere) can thrive.
"To create the ideal setting for the tree to thrive, CRA has completely redesigned the old farmhouse to maximize natural light, installing a 10-m-[32-ft]-tall south-facing glass wall," explains the firm. "The design harnesses technology and the micro-climate of the surrounding area to control the temperature and humidity, so that the tree and the home's occupants can live together comfortably. Both the windows and the roof can be opened and closed automatically to adjust the amount of sunlight and fresh air entering the house."
On arriving, visitors descend slightly into the main living area and kitchen. This is of course defined by the tree, as well as a large live edge wooden table and a sunken seating area. The farmhouse-style decor is enlivened by a pierced brick wall that lets in pleasantly dappled light, and a Corten steel staircase.
Elsewhere in the home, the private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms are arranged to make it feel like visitors are walking among nature, with the tree serving as a central focal point. Nature even finds its way into the flooring, which is made from soil and orange peels, as seen in CRA's recent Dubai Pavilion.
As well as the main residence, CRA also converted a granary building situated near the rear of the house into a large workspace for the owner. The two buildings are surrounded by extensive landscaping, which was handled by Paolo Pejrone.
“In a flat landscape in which there are no mountains, hills, or lakes, but only plains, nature expresses itself through a beautiful light that changes throughout the day," adds Italo Rota. "It adds a charming, almost film-like quality to the atmosphere. The environmental conditions around the Greenary inspired our design, and this represents one of the different expressions we use to illustrate the harmony between natural and artificial elements."