Report on an Old House Renovation in Presicce

Martina Ciceri

Martina Ciceri studies and graduates in Architecture, Building Construction at Milan Polytechnic in 2018, with a thesis on the reuse and the integration of dismissed infrastructures in the contemporary italian landscape. Since then she worked between Milan and Europe alternating and combining urbanism and architectural design, always carrying out a deep interest in the built environment.

Presicce is part of the archipelago of villages of Salento; a net of small centers that constitutes one of the finest places of the peninsula.
The house is located in the expansion of the ancient borgo, retaining the same proportions and typologies of the center, but not the great finishings, decorations and materials (that are often re-interpreted and re-designed by the locals individual taste).
The building is originally composed of four big symmetric vaulted rooms and the presence of an inner garden, visible from the street thanks to a large entrance corridor, often closed by a gate rather than a door in the city center.
The roof is made accesible and shows the top of the domes’ shape, most probably it was used to dry vegetables and fruits in the past.
The palinsesto was then modifyed over the years to adapt to the life and needs of different inhabitants, by adding new volumes and services, such as toilets and technical rooms for the heating system.

The aim of this report is to question the need of a complex debate around a style and aesthetic over the simplicity and banalty of tradition, when working with the built environment.
The renovation project insists on few very simple operations, with little space for personal flair or individual experimentation.
The small unorganized rooms from the 60’s are removed and former storage rooms (currently dismissed) are made accessible and reconnected to the spaces of the house.
The house is divided in two autonomous parts that work the same way.
The aim is to restore order and the pragmatic use of space, according to the economy of materials and time.

This is not a research on formal virtuosism or expressive solutions, but the takeover of a traditional approach to construction.
It is no symptom of a uncertain position to a complex issue, but rather the recognition of the role of an architect whitin the context.
But most importantly, the awareness of the site itself, as part of a bigger system, that is the historical built landscape of Presicce. Which is, in these terms, a very resilient kind of Heritage, that preserves its value in the physicality of its spaces, rather than in a picturesque appaerence.

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