George Clooney may have a villa on Como, but anyone who's familiar with the Italian lakes knows that Switzerland's neighboring Lake Lugano is truly one of the region's brightest shining jewels. Less touristy, but just as tranquil and lush, this often over-looked destination boasts a beautiful and dramatic landscape anyone would love to open their windows to. JM Architects designed a simple modern home set into the hillside that draws in the region's natural elements. Built partially submerged into the land, the spectacular structure frames stunning views of the lake and takes advantage of a number of sustainable features, including geothermal energy, roof gardens, rain-water collection and more.
The house is built partially embedded into the slope of a hill overlooking Lake Lugano. The villa consists of two volumes that have been oriented to fit the topography of the site – the one set above ground hosts communal spaces, and the other set on a lower level contains private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as the garage. While established as separate volumes, the program of each level relates closely with the outdoor spaces.
The upper level of the home is a rounded polygonal pavilion that holds the living room, dining room, kitchen and storage. The transparency of the space allows for ample natural light throughout the day while maximizing the surrounding views, wholly integrating nature into the home. The modern aesthetic certainly creates a stark contrast against the natural greenery, but roof plantings in addition to the views on the pavilion level make the home at peace with the surrounding landscape.
Low-E, argon filled windows help keep the interior from overheating in the summer and warm during the winter. The ring-like space that embraces the building on the north side grants constant ventilation and natural light to the living areas. To further optimize the thermal efficiency of the shell and natural sun shading, deciduous trees have been planted at the south-west area of the building.
The bedrooms of the home are set on the second level, facing a garden enclosed by the building and the perimeter wall. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the line between the indoors and outdoors is blurred, and a space that would otherwise be interpreted as compact freely opens and extends to the garden.
Skylights from the floor above pour additional light into the interior, and geothermal energy is used to power the home. Moreover, white cladding on the perimeter wall and the white gravel set at the pavilion level above the lower volume reflects sunlight coming from the south, further cooling the interior.