Barn Retrofit



After inheriting a portion of a farm building—used over much of its existence for drying corn—our clients wanted to create a modern living space respectful of the legacy that had been given them. It faced a traditional courtyard on one side and a forest on the other in what, over the centuries, had become a traditional Lombardy landscape.


Subject to numerous conservation constraints, first and foremost the building needed significant structural work to be stabilized. The need to retain traditional elements was embraced, creating a theme on which to build contemporary flourishes and meet modern functional requirements.


We created spatial solutions by reinterpreting the antiquated interior, including an open, fluid second floor—kitchen, dining room, and living room—that revolves around a light-steel staircase between glass walls that leads upstairs. With the exterior, we built textures using traditional corn drying racks to cast shadows and maintained the original stone surfaces whenever possible. Though obviously modern, the project subconsciously pays tribute to its traditions. This excellent example of careful restoration brought us the Claudio Baracca Architecture 1st Prize in 2012.

More about the solution

Inspiration Knowledge

“Architecture is the will of the age conceived in spatial terns.”

– Mies Van der Rohe

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Architectural Philosophy

The renovation of a portion of the old barn yard and the stable gave the option to revisit with a contemporary key the spaces and construction elements linked to the local agricultural tradition.

The intervention had the goal to transform the building into a residential space and saving the structurally uncompromising parts. On the north side, the stone masonry was consolidated, and the perimeter brick structures recovered. The southern façade kept the central pillar in bricks and is characterized by wooden gratings that recall the traditional trellises used to dry the hay, in a contemporary interpretation.

The alignment of the front side with the adjacent buildings in the court changes just beyond the entrance defined by wooden trellises; a small private garden was created emptying a double-height of the building volume, a filter space between the courtyard and the actual entrance of the house.

A central concrete staircase leads to the first floor framing the trees on the north side through a large opening.

On the first floor, the living spaces of the house are organized around a light metal and wood staircase. The space remains free, with no visual interruptions except the white line of the staircase that leads to the upper floor in the bed rooms area.

A specific attention was dedicated to the passive energy containment of the building obtaining a certificate of energy certification in the A class from the Cened.