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A sunken extension that connects to the original home through an underground tunnel

For a historic home in Italy, architecture firm Act_Romegialli has added a sunken pavilion that blends subtly into the existing grounds. The clients requested a renovation that would add an indoor swimming pool and fitness area as well as provide space for leisure, however they didn’t want the new building to visually disrupt the surrounding garden. Instead of placing the extension directly behind the original home, the architects turned it into an independent space that is removed from the home. They then proceeded to tuck the building below ground and cover the roof with a grassy lawn that perfectly blends with the meadow-like garden.

The original home sits well above the garden with no real connection to the grounds, so the extension is also part of a greater renovation that works to create a dialogue between all elements of the property. To connect the old house and the new extension, the architects designed an underground tunnel that runs between the two. The tunnel avoids all existing trees by zigging and zagging from point A to point B, thus disrupting the landscape as little as possible. Rather unique in its design and conception, the tunnel also creates a dynamic relationship between the two buildings and a sense of privileged intimacy. The tunnel also connects to a small glass conservatory, the remnant of a previous renovation, while the conservatory connects to the house through a covered glass bridge.

The front of the extension faces the artificial lake with full glass sliding doors that can be retracted to seamless connect the interior water with the exterior water. A sunken patio acts as a bridge between the pool and the lake.

The interior is defined by simple geometric volumes of wood or cement and finished in white ceramic mosaic tiles. The tile was chosen for its versatility and durability: it can be used on flooring, walls and in the pool. The design team explains, “The choice of continuity of material creates an effect: a mass of water finds its natural resting state and settles in the lowest part of the volume, held by a dynamic and at the same time gentle form before it slowly follows its course down to quietly settle in the pool.” In order to not spoil the effect, all technical elements, such as ventilation, were kept discreet.