by , 09/18/07

Linari, green rehab, adaptive reuse, tuscan green building, tuscany green home, italian green home, abigail doan, andreani pandeff

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.

Linari, green rehab, adaptive reuse, tuscan green building, tuscany green home, italian green home, abigail doan, andreani pandeff

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.

+ Abigail Doan

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  1. Architect Leo Mac Ender September 28, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    This your job is fantastic all over, go on and show people how to do with small ideas.
    With bow´s from Leo Mac Ender

  2. Abigail September 19, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Dear “Nick Simpson”:

    Emily Pilloton, the Managing Editor of Inhabitat, wrote the article. This was after I submitted my materials through the Green Homes call for submissions.

    It is indeed the case that there are very strict restoration codes throughout most of Tuscany. We spend a lot of time submitting proposals/paperwork for lengthy review and certification. We prefer to work with local builders as this creates jobs for those with outstanding skills in our immediate community, and they typically understand how to reincorporate reclaimed materials better than anyone else. (We have also done a lot of hard work and manual labor ourselves.)

    And you are correct in that we do NOT have a lot of latitude to create new design solutions or layout overhauls as this is a historic structure, and we want to (have to) honor this.

    Thanks for your inquiry and comments!

    Dear “Ignacio Gonzalez”:

    My recommendation for finding your ideal locale in Italy is to try to spend time there traveling and getting to know the specifics of various communities. We did not set out to find something in this part of the world (We actually have family in the vicinity), but it is my belief that the best possibilities come from visiting a place and discovering what lies within. I would also recommend exploring off the beaten regions of Italy, as you will not be treated like a tourist looking for a fixer-upper or an “Under the Tuscan Sun” candidate.

    Best of luck with fulfilling your dream and finding a nice green spot and project!

    Thanks for reading,

    Abigail @ Inhabitat

  3. Nick Simpson September 19, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    So did you write this article yourself Abigail?

    From my knowledge of Tuscany you’re forced to use local tradesmen and materials as you have to keep pretty much faithfully to a complete restoration of these existing buildings to their original appearance and design?

  4. Ignacio Gonzalez September 19, 2007 at 11:01 am

    What a beautifull place…It has been my dream to move to Italy and restore some of the great architecture they have there…where can I get m,ore information about these type of opportunities.

  5. Ro September 19, 2007 at 4:29 am

    Abigail, what a lovely place it is! I’m jealous now, haha.
    Have you moved in yet by the way? I couldn’t make it out in the text.

    Maybe one day, I’ll own something similar. And just as green.

  6. Abigail September 18, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Dear “rob in chicago”:

    Thanks for your comments. I just wanted to clarify that we do not fly to our “second home” several times a year.
    As the article states, we are there for a long stretch of time so that we can meaningfully participate in the community that surrounds us and the labor-intensive restoration efforts. We also have close family in Europe, so it is vitally important that we spend significant periods of time there. Coincidentally we are also currently fighting the expansion of a local airport near our home so that we do not have folks flying into the region for the weekend or for brief holidays.

    Thanks for reading!

    Abigail @ Inhabitat

  7. rob in chicago September 18, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Lovely place… a dream.

    However, flying to a second home several times a year is not at all “green.” I’m not saying don’t do what you’re doing but I am saying don’t pat yourselves on the back too hard for “going green” in this instance.

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