We’ve probably all dreamed of moving to a villa in the Italian countryside, but here’s a couple that has done so with a real commitment to green restoration and context-sensitive design. Inhabitat writer Abigail Doan and her husband Ludmil Andreani Pandeff have been restoring a 14th century property in rural Tuscany for the past several years as a great green getaway from their Manhattan digs. The main structure on the property is a ‘casa colonica,’ a traditional two-story farmhouse with central arcaded courtyard. Its romantic history has been maintained through sensitive adaptive reuse and the integration of valuable reclaimed materials from the region.
Due to budget constraints and strict regional preservation codes, the couple is restoring the house using reclaimed materials such as Tuscan bricks, salvaged piazza stones, indigenous chestnut timber, natural clay tiles, and artisan-crafted ceramic surfaces. A local woodworker from nearby Siena carved and constructed the dwellings’ doors, window frames, and shutters. And because the two are typically on site at Linari from the months of April to October, they use very little heating and artificial lighting.
The couple plans to eventually integrate solar components into the farmhouse’s energy system due to Tuscany’s moderate climate. The roof will also need additional support and re-enforcement from historic-preservation-approved chestnut timber beams. But for now, the house serves as a versatile semi-open-air shelter where the two can live comfortably in one part of the structure and minimize their water and day-to-day energy needs. (We give them major kudos for inhabiting the home even while it’s still under construction.)
The farmhouse’s courtyard has a natural drainage system, ideal for watering the native orange and lemon trees that line the ground floor arcades. And as a more romantic version of a green roof, the couple has let organically raised plants and vines take root up the sides and over the roof of the house to create ‘green walls’ and ‘canopies’ that provide insulation and natural shade. The home is still very much work in progress, but we love their thoughtful approach to preservation and local materials as green building strategy.