a25 architetti's barn renovation in northern italy reinterprets tradition in a contemporary way

Oct 18, 2021

a25 architetti has restructured a small agricultural building in northern italy for an 81-year-old former garelli motorcycles worker. named ‘the mulberry refuge’, the modest building is set in the foothills of montevecchia in northern brianza.

since the early 1900s, the region has been known for silk production and mulberry trees, the leaves of which feed silkworms. much of the land is now used for other activities such as hay meadows, pasture and corn crops. this renewed refuge stands behind one of the few remaining mulberry trees in the area.

the existing barn had been adapted over the past 50 years to meet changing needs, often with low-quality materials. a25 architetti’s intervention began by clearing out all these adaptations, leaving just the simple rough cement structure.

the rough cement walls on the lower part of the building were retained while the upper wall sections were replaced with cement bricks, which were made with waste material. every other brick protrudes outwards, creating an interesting textured effect and giving this traditional barn a contemporary twist.

following the brief from the owner, mr. benvenuto, a25 architetti planned a convivial space to chat with passersby on the ground floor. this level also provides a shelter for tools and direct access to the path in front. the intimate room is furnished with a small wooden table and chairs and a single window framing the surrounding landscape.

the upper floor is used as a storage area/barn to keep agricultural equipment and small, dried bales of hay.

the architects kept the materials raw, simple and authentic. in addition to the new cement bricks, they utilized timber and clay tiles for the new roof, and sheet metal for the gutters and downpipes.

despite its humble size and appearance, the mulberry refuge serves as a precious sanctuary for mr. benvenuto, a fact which is emphasized by the existing sheet metal door that’s been painted in a goldeny brass color. more than that, the mulberry refuge also stands as an example of what can be achieved when a little bit of care and attention is given to existing rural buildings.

a wooden table and chair furnishes the intimate space

project info:

name: the mulberry refuge

location: montevecchia, italy

architecture: a25 architetti | @a25architetti year: 2020 – 2021

photography: marcello mariana | @marcellomarianafotografia