ow can you turn old rundown farmhouse into a modern home without losing its character? The answer to this, is a project by architect Federico Delrosso, which brings together contemporary design and a desire to conserve the existing period architecture. An old abandoned building, once a farmhouse in a large winery in the Piedmont region, North West Italy, was turned by a local textile manufacturer into a wonderful family home. Now, this old farmhouse exhibits a new found dignity: an elegant modern building, which doesn’t overdo it and with an understated feel, true its humble origins.
We are in Lessona, at the foot of the Monte Rosa, between the historic Biella textile district (with top quality manufacturers like Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana etc.) and Gattinara, a small town made famous by its wine. The farmhouse in question is also in wine country, Nebbiolo to be more precise (of the Barolo kind).
And here, textile industry and wine production go hand in hand since the seventieth century, in fact: “Comino Sella purchased several vineyards in Lessona to invest profits from the family’s textile manufacturing business in agriculture” (1671). What’s more, this extremely beautiful estate and winery is still owned by the Sella family, however this old rundown farmhouse was sold to a new owner, also a local textile manufacturer. And it was part of the farm built in 1840 by Giovanni Antonio Sella, when he commissioned his extraordinary manor at the top of the hill.
Owners and architect wanted this home to be free-flowing with large open-plan spaces and sparsely furnished, so as not to detract from the original structure. With its distinct orthogonal lines, the zinc-plated metal veranda is a taste of the meticulous simplicity of the interior. The large arches of the brick vaults, whitewashed to lighten their heavy appearance, mark a succession of rooms, in a space which is almost 200 sqm. And just like Federico Delrosso put it: “they also seem to be marking the succession of time”.
Open-plan kitchen and dining room. In the kitchen, freestanding storage/larder frees up ceiling and self-supporting structure, which is in turn lit by diffused lights. All the ground floor has the same concrete flooring Table in Corian and metal, designed by architect Federico Delrosso, who run the renovation project.
The are many rundown farmhouses in Italy; this is also true the world over. And we praise those who try to bring these buildings back from the dead, a process which in turn breathes life into the surrounding area. You need to have a clear vision of the potential of these buildings, before you attempt something so challenging and difficult. In this case, both owners and architect had the same goal. They imagined having a large veranda overlooking the valley, as well as open spaces under vaults, which blend together history and innovation. They were able to built an exciting home, where you can sense the past but also enjoy living in the present.
Farmhouse renovation and interior design
Location: Lessona, Biella, Italy
Floors: 2 + mezzanine floor
Size: 420 sqm + 140 sqm terrace
Interior design project and furniture sourcing:
Arch. Federico Delrosso
Corso Italia 68, 20122 Milan, Italy
Tel: 00 30 02 56808148
Credits Matteo Piazza,
Courtesy Federico Delrosso