Villa RA by MORQ

  • As a return to origins, Villa RA is a deeply sympathetic expression of place.

    Nestled above an elevated ridge in one of the southernmost parts of Italy, the outwardly expressed home beautifully captures the essence of Calabria and rests open and embracing of its resonant surroundings.

    “Conceived as a ‘house that looks’ Villa RA is a compact structure punctuated by openings that frame the landscape,” MORQ co-director Emiliano Roia says, one of three co-directors, together with Matteo Monteduro and Andrea Quagliola. “Our design intention ensures the home is held accountable to the site,” he adds.

    The unique siting among the lofted heights and mountainous terrain of the region grants unmatched views, an asset not easily forgotten within. Imagined as a summer retreat for its owners of Italian lineage, the home sits weighted through its composition yet responsive in how it engages with the landscape. “The new dwelling aims to be part of the landscape as a whole,” Emiliano adds, “and instead of looking to formally mimic the landscape, the project draws from the tradition of the Italian villa, and the material tones of the land it sits on.”

    Emerging from the land, Villa RA uses the earth it perches on as the material it is made from, as an extension, carved and sculpted by its makers. “The limited palette of materials reveals the simple geometry of the building,” Emiliano says, “and creates a visual and tactile continuity between landscape and architecture, where hues change during the day, responding to sun and land, revealing movement through shadows and ever-changing material nuances.”

    “Conceived as a ‘house that looks’ Villa RA is a compact structure punctuated by openings that frame the landscape.”


    – MORQ co-director Emiliano Roia

    Cocciopesto plaster, a custom made lime-based material, is used internally and for the exterior, part of a restrained material palette that allows the home to recede into the landscape.

    The minimalist bathroom space frames views over the Gulf of Squillace on the Calabrian coast.

    As a minimal gesture, the open axial approach allows the landscape to remain the focus and the home to act as a reclusive shelter. Taking cues from traditional Italian villas, a solid front presents as the entry to the home, protecting and concealing its function. Once inside and moving through the space, the home reveals itself with framed apertures guiding the eye to curated living pictures of the landscape beyond.

    This same axial yet linear approach ensures a visual and ventilated connection throughout, sustainably ensuring comfort among the elements on site. Openings above act like a sundial, drawing the sun onto the floor plane and animating surfaces throughout the day as an active alliance between the sun and earth.

    Calm and restorative, Villa RA sits as a still and unhurried insertion into its site, seeing MORQ carve a unique sense of discovery and retreat-like moments in the process.

    This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #42.

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