Gallery: Italian Alps Barn Renovated Into a Solar-Powered Contemporary ...


This rustic Alpine Barn in Selva di Cadore, Italy has been renovated into a low-impact retreat set in the dramatic Italian Alps. The barn is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so great strides were made by EXiT architetti associati to maintain the original presence of the structure while making it efficient and durable for future generations. Each board and beam was taken apart, cleaned, repaired and then reassembled around a metal frame. A well-insulated shell and solar-electric panels beautifully set into the roof make the restoration a powerful fusion of historic design and 21st century technology.

Barn conversions are a popular way to create space while maintaining a historic relationship with the site — but few projects go to this length to maintain the structure’s original aesthetic and material integrity. While much of the original wood was preserved, that which could not be cleaned and restored was replaced with treated wood that reflects the same character.

The exterior maintains the original look, but the interior was opened up to a more contemporary floor plan. Material selection was based on a very limited pallet of larch and fir wood, Dolomia stone, steel and plaster to maintain the integrity of the original elements. Small contemporary touches such as modern porcelain basins and black steel elements break up the wood-dominated interior.

The new larch-shingled roof is commingled with an inset solar electric array that powers the retreat while maintaining the classic roofline. While the architects claim the project has a zero-emission electric under-floor heating system, it’s likely that most of that energy comes from a fossil fuel power plant rather than the solar-electric bank. Nonetheless, the painstaking reworking of the barn into a retreat cabin is an environmentally satisfying exercises in weaving the best of the old with the new.


Deep retrofits that satisfy modern living standards but maintain a connection to the local vernacular make green building a viable option in many established communities. The reuse of materials saves resources and creates jobs for local skilled construction workers.

+ EXiT Architetti Associati

Via Arch Daily

Photos © Teresa Cos


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