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chivelstone house
place:devon, inghilterra
project:peter zumthor
buyer:living architecture
lighting project:peter zumthor, mario nanni
photos:jack hobhouse
secular retreat, peter zumthor’s house at chivelstone in great britain, offers guests the opportunity to gently perceive the passing of time from dawn to dusk. the house, after ten years of planning, is the eighth and final property of the pioneering series of houses of living architecture. is the first project by peter zumthor in the uk and it’s a distillation of the architect’s obsession for the landscape and for history. the architect, referring to the house, mentions the essay of the german philosopher martin heidegger ‘building, living, thinking’ and in particular the symbol of the bridge: ‘there is a wonderful solidarity between architecture and landscape. sometimes landscape needs the human touch to become truly wonderful. i saw that we had the potential to make something here that could belong to the landscape in the heidegger sense of the term’. the walls and roof are extraordinarily thick, the cement is beaten by hand, positioned layer by layer like the circles that indicate the years of the trees and that zumthor describes as ‘a block, another block and a roof, supported by five columns’ - three on the inside and two on the outside. the entrance path is marked by the campanula lamp, flower emerging from the vegetation and acts as a guiding light for the visitor. as soon as you cross the entrance, three candele di vals shine above the guest, while in the living room more than four meters high you leave on the couches designed by the master, to listen to music or to read a book to the soft and punctual light of the fiore terra lamp. looking at the hills, beyond the concrete and monolithic, transparent glass structure, the maniglia spotlights argento hacca illuminate the pine trees of monterey, while the campanula in burnished aluminum, hidden among the shrubs, show the passagethat leads to the entrance. vello, a light structure of brass and crystal, ethereal precious, covered in shetland wool, is suspended above the woodentable almost three meters long, the ritiro lamp provides a soft light to the zinc worktop. zumthor design every single lamp for the men in chivelstone house, from the led version of linee for bathrooms, to the maniglia spotlight to lighten the trees. the villa remembers the design of palladium, but with an ethics that’s much more egalitarian. ‘he built in the country for the aristocracy, creating places for the in which to relax, celebrate the landscape and spend a life away from the city. as a function, is very similar, but now it’s not for the aristocracy, is for people like us,’ writes zumthor. the important is that architecture expresses ‘a strong, material presence’.

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