MEET THE ARCHITECT: A TALK BETWEEN DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENT
The protagonist of this interview is Nicola Puppin, the founder and creative director of Arkenis.
Nicola is a young Italian architect passioned about art and design with a twofold background: on the one hand rooted in the Venetian territory, on the other enriched and contaminated by his experience in Japan at Kengo Kuma & Associates Studio.
His design approach is a natural consequence of this training: pure and essential forms, with an Oriental minimalist flavour. His architectures are constantly related to the territory from which they originate, without losing their identity and uniqueness. His intention is to create a dialogue between the sculptural object and the surrounding environment, to create harmony and enhance both. This process culminates in the skilful use of natural materials, which become the main elements of the composition and at the same time crown this act of contamination.
The LX House project posed an interesting challenge: an ancient and seemingly unchanging context needed a radical alteration of its original layout. The aim of the project was to divide the residence into two separate units through the creation of a device in the stairwell, which could be inserted like a blade between the parapets of the latter, without disturbing the delicate balance of the historic residence as a whole.
Why did you choose to use wood in the LX House project?
Using wood as the main material in this renovation project was the fundamental link between the new intervention and the existing building. In fact, although the cut of the product is exquisitely modern, this material draws its origins from the most ancient and deep-rooted architectural tradition, allowing the new element to merge with the context in which it is inserted.
Moreover, since it is the division of two flats intended to be self-contained, it is evident how the sound-absorbing properties of wood played a decisive role in the choice of materials.
I believe that using wood in a house is an almost indispensable act: in fact it is a living material, capable of transmitting warmth to the environment in which it is located and to those who live in it. In the context of an entrance hall, this feeling of warmth welcomes those who cross the threshold.
In this case, the entrance is located on a landing between two flights of stairs: there is therefore a rising motion, which involuntarily leads the visitor to seek the contact and comfort of a wall during his movement. This gesture is enhanced by the texture of the wood, which, creates a truly tactile, intimate and personal experience.
Which features of the Skin cladding have determined an added value in your project?
The Skin cladding has multiple characteristics that allowed the intervention to adapt like a second skin to the existing context. It is a house with light and delicate tones, in which the white marble stairs and the eggshell Venetian lime spatula dictate gentle movements and rounded lines, interrupted by the verticality of the black wrought iron parapet.
The new element flanks the parapet and cuts sharply, as a blade would, into the room. In order to fit into this delicate balance, while at the same time giving strength to the compositional gesture, it was necessary to search for a cladding characterised by absolute purity, while at the same time conveying the timeless elegance that pervades the rest of the room. Skin seemed to be the most suitable choice, thanks to its pure and essential line, which enhances the sophisticated choice of smoked eucalyptus wood.
Precisely this unique wood, with its unmistakable dark colour, creates a play of synergetic contrasts with the light background on which it rests, allowing the new element to stand out, without ever overpowering its surroundings.
Finally, the simplicity of the minimalist design of this product allows the observer to appreciate the quality of the finishes and the quantity of fundamental details, establishing with it a game of continuous discovery and wonder: the dark metal profiles, the hinges and handles that, almost like a small formal quirk, stand out from the dark wood, giving a luminous detail to the composition.
What difficulties did you encounter in the product engineering process and how did using a custom-made product enable you to overcome them?
Although the project was small in size, it presented enormous technical difficulties, which could only be overcome by introducing a tailor-made element, designed specifically for the space in which it is housed.
It was therefore a surgical operation, which was made possible by the careful and continuous collaboration with the technical design staff.
My intention was to create a single gesture that would fulfil two different functions: to divide the rooms, making them autonomous, and to create a new entrance to the penthouse floor.
The design concept is a wooden blade that fits into the gap between the two flights of stairs, accommodates the entrance door, and folds around the adjacent wall to form a vestibule. The latter creates a moment of closure, almost like a niche, which opens up towards the double-height room, allowing the staircase’s upward motion to continue.
Discover the reference LX House