Ca’Giovanni: An Architect’s (Gentle) Renovation of His Great-Grandfather’s Work

When we reached out to Italian architect Alfredo Vanotti of EV + A Lab about this snug stone house in the Italian countryside, we didn’t anticipate how deep the architect’s tether to the place would go.

“The building had been used in the past as a stable and warehouse on the ground floor and a barn and storage room on the first floor,” Alfredo responded. “It belonged to my great-grandfather who toiled to build it, worked on it all his life. It was the symbol of the livelihood of the entire large family. I could not erase the history; I had no right to do so. I had to be as respectful as possible. Starting from these principles, I decided that I would not modify either the volume or the openings while keeping, where possible, the existing materials.”

Now (gently) redone, the early-1900s stone dwelling is the architect’s main residence. “The building had one ‘life,’ and having been abandoned for several years, the goal was to give it a second one without forgetting the previous one,” he adds.

Take a look inside the architect’s respectful twenty-first-century re-imagining of his great-grandfather’s work.

Photography by Marcello Mariana, courtesy of EV + A Lab.

the house is nestled into a hill in the lombardy region of italy. “ 9
Above: The house is nestled into a hill in the Lombardy region of Italy. “I was a child when my great-grandfather worked there, so I attended it with the eyes and carefreeness of a child experiencing a place for fun,” Alfredo recalls. “Certainly unconsciously it has remained in my heart and mind.”

“The load-bearing structure composed of chestnut beams and joists was in excellent condition,” Alfredo writes, “so it was not touched and did not need consolidation.” The roof, however, was in need of careful repair. “I dismantled the rusty corrugated sheet metal roofing and removed the chestnut planking,” Alfredo adds. “I proceeded to clean the sheet metal and trim and clean the chestnut planks, which were then put entirely back in place, including the corrugations.”

the stone dwelling’s main room. “i started by cleaning  10
Above: The stone dwelling’s main room. “I started by cleaning the plaster on the first-floor walls, bringing to light the entire natural stone structure and defining the openings,” Alfredo writes.