Don’t add too much, don’t subtract too much

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Don’t add too much, don’t subtract too much
Transformation of an apartment, Torino 2020

A couple with two little girls moves into a new apartment, slightly larger than the previous one, in the same building from the early 1900s. The apartment, almost untouched since then, is stark and somewhat decadent, with a long blind corridor, small rooms with high ceilings and narrow windows. They want a bright and modern flat instead, suitable for accommodating the energies of childhood; at the same time, they reluctantly recognize the gloomy charm of the apartment as it is.

Thus, also this project starts from the search for the best form of coexistence between different instances. It tries to answer the question: what is the minimum intervention to expand and brighten the spaces while preserving their character?
Here starts a long process of negotiation and adaptation between desires and existing conditions. The new volumes are designed to find their place in a non-invasive but also non-shy way: to do so they fold, deform, lift. The ideal and the contingent, the new and the old dialogue and fight, until they find their balance.

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There are two kinds of transformations, as usual.
Subtraction: minimal cuts are made on the existing walls to connect the rooms and to accommodate the few new volumes.
Addition: sneaking through the existing walls, the new volumes find their place above the old ones, taking advantage of their height and interacting with them.

By doing this, the apartment can grow within itself: the two sleeping areas for the girls occupy no surface but, working on the section, are obtained above the bathroom and the laundry. In this way two rooms remain totally free: one is used for the girls, to meet and play, the other for the parents, almost a luxury: a small living room to withdraw from the cheerful confusion of family life.

p.s. Dilemma of old walls. Fascinated by many well-known projects where the existing surfaces appear completely intact, we initially decided to keep the walls exactly as they were, with their old upholstery, their ruined plaster, etc.
During the construction, it became clear that too much effort would have been necessary to do it: the new technical plants would have required complicated paths and the demolitions excessive care, increasing costs seriously … So we painted it all.
Currently, we are still not clear about the reasonable threshold of preservation.

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Design: Subhash Mukerjee
Collaborators: Mattia Gola, Yvonne Forieri, Mattia Lo Presti
Structure consultant: Riccardo Morello
Contractors: Edilcosta srls, Silvio Grosso, Ricardo Rios
Client: private
Surface: 110 sqm
Photos: Beppe Giardino