Private house
Siracusa, Italy, 2012

Principals: Andrea Di Stefano, Aleksandra Jaeschke
Team: Salvo Pappalardo
Renderings: Massimo D’Aiello
Engineering: Daniele Catania

Periscope is a house for a couple who decided to move out of town to live right by the sea, few kilometres from the centre of Siracusa. The project starts with the demolition of a pre-existing house built in the 60’s but it conserves its original volume allowance and the bounding box in compliance with the local planning legislation.
The house enjoys a direct access to the sea, overlooking one of the most beautiful parts of the coastline.
Isolating glimpses of landscape to eventually restore them to the perception as integral and unaltered helped to bring out the spectacular views offered by this prominent position.

Accurate work carried out on the openings enabled exclusion of the ugliness of the surrounding buildings, resolving the entire project into a percept, a complex of perceptions and perceived materials. The house assumes, in fact, the form and function of a vision machine, apt to connect man with the environment they inhabit.
The generative process starts with the redistribution of the available volume and reconfiguration of the three isolated floor plates which made up the pre-existing building. Following the natural slope of terrain the levels split into five defining an equal number of functional areas in a fluid space with no internal partitions. The internal circulation strengthens the experience of continuity of space as the landings mark the rhythm of internal activities.

Each function is defined by few essential pieces of furniture which, strategically positioned within the space, define places where one stops over and observes the surrounding landscape through the windows that serve them. The same treatment is applied to the connective devices, staircases and doorways which we cross directing the eye towards the target. Also in these places that we only cross, the windows are distributed with scientific precision. Each opening is, in fact, a parametrically-calibrated device similar to a camera lens, a photographic objective which selects a portion of the landscape and puts it in focus concentrating the attention of the observer on the object of vision and establishing a direct link between the eye and the view. The multiplicity of viewing points together with the fragments of pre-selected landscapes sets up a system of openings which invests the entire envelope bubbling up to the surface of the initially pure prism.

The scalar relationships which inform the five elevations, including that of the roof, reflect the ones which describe the landscapes framed by each opening. Each opening captures a specific scale, closing away from it or opening onto it, protracting or retracting, twisting or aligning itself to catch a detail or a whole out of a vast range of scapes. A range spanning from the texture of gravel or lawn opposite the house to the rocks falling into the sea, from the Murro di Porco cape which encircles the Plemmirio bay to the Monti Iblei hills which trace the skyline from the very south to Noto, and still beyond, where the sea touches the sky at the horizon, or at night, lying down to give a last gaze to the stars. Periscope is a house that looks all around itself and so is all eyes in itself. Eyes pointing at what one wants to see and shutting in front of what one wishes it wasn’t there. Critical eyes that help to emerge the sense of the view.

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