Lumino House: A Monolithic Love Affair

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

It’s rather odd that we’d be writing about a project that has some monolithic intentions. At the time of this writing, there’s been a rise in “monolithic” sightings of unexplained origins.

Yeah, we’re thinking the same. A few too many Arthur C. Clarke or 2001: A Space Odyssey fans. The joke’s on you though. Some of us are huge fans of the collected works of Arthur C. Clarke. The fiction writer passed away in 2008 but leaves a legacy of fans for not only his works but ideas. He popularized space travel, proposed a satellite communication system using geostationary orbits (1945), and told ABC viewers in a 1974 interview, a future with ubiquitous computing. Yep, something we’d know later as the Internet.

Nope, this story takes us to a galaxy far, far, away. Well, at least to Switzerland.

Table of Contents

  1. Lumino, Switzerland
    1. About Lumino
  2. The Lumino House
  3. The Geometry
  4. Connected External Experience
  5. Sustainable Design
  6. Project: Technical Specs
  7. The Image Gallery

Lumino, Switzerland

The home, monolithic in tone, yet appearing a bit brutalist, is located in Lumino, a Swiss Alpine village. This village is nestled in the district of Bellinzona of the Ticino canton.

About Lumino

We always look to the story behind the location for some interesting facts. There isn’t much in terms of notable historical events worth mentioning about Lumino. In the latter 20th century, many new homes were constructed to support a population that worked outside the village. In 2000, there were 470 private households and 327 single-family homes out of 440 inhabited buildings. In 2000, there were 603 apartments of which 225 were 4 room apartment configurations.

From 1583 to 1950, Lumino’s population grew to 600 residents. In 2001, the population hit 1,127 people. From 2014, the population grew from 1,404 people to a whopping 1,513 residents.

Other data indicates that Lumino is home to 667 families, gender split of 50.2% male vs. 49.8% female. Foreigners account for 18% of the location population and the average age is 42.3 years. Language is clearly defined. Over 90% speak Italian, just over 4% speak German, and just under 2% speak Albanian. Go figure.

Planning a visit? Well, only if you want to. In 2009, there was only one hotel. We did a bit of digging and found out it’s expanded. We’re warning you, it’s a “we told you so” moment. The additional hotel looks like a barn, has a nice but rough diner area, and bunk-style beds with straw/hay as your mattress! Don’t believe us? Sleep on some straw! Maybe it was time we all got out of our comfort zone. Ha Ha. If you want to go a little more upscale and visit the region, consider Hotel Bellinzona Sud. Swanky interiors. However, you’d better have a plan for traveling around here and we don’t recommend house spying. 😀

The Lumino House

Our first impressions gave us pause. Smart, clean, modern, and contemporary; especially the interior design and decor. However, the concrete exterior reminded us of so many examples of brutalist architecture from the 1970s. Like the John P. Robarts Library in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

If we consider Lumino’s surroundings, the Lumino House is monolithic in stature. It stands out! Most other homes are traditional, stone-built structures, dating back several centuries. There’s a stark contrast for such a small village and is designed to scream its presence (no, not Ricoooooola!).

Built with reinforced concrete, the house demonstrates strength represents the new frontier of modern residential expansion compared to the older core. What we do like is the client’s wish for a minimalist aesthetic that is captured perfectly within interior and exterior design.

The central concept was to achieve status as a ‘minimalist monolith’. From this concept, all ideas, elements, functional application, construction, finished details and foundation flowed. Further, the living spaces within would consider minimalism from an architectural design standpoint, not from home decor furnishings.

The Geometry

The house is designed in a way to provide protection, privacy, and intimacy for the homeowners. Oddly, the large window designs open the home to external observation with an airy sense of generosity.

In geometry, a parallelepiped is a 3D figure formed by six parallelograms. The Lumino House’s geometry plan considers two shifted parallelepipeds. This arrangement by this geometry recognizes the abnormalities of the landscape while offering a direct connection with adjacent gardens.

Connected External Experience

The dual vertical connection of the Lumino home (internal, external) connects all home spaces, encouraging a constant connection of perception to time or scale. The spaces extend and expand into the landscape, connecting the external environment as part of the home’s environment. Palm Springs architecture is recognized for connecting interiors to exterior environments as a connected residential experience. Spaces within the Lumino house are defined geometrically, with each space having its own natural flow into the next space, before it continues and connects to the external environment of the surrounding village.

The Lumino House’s extroverted sense of openness is deliberate. It offers the homeowner a chance to create living spaces that are open and connected to the village community. Oddly, the use of concrete considered cold, unforgiving, and closed acts like a physical bond for the inhabitants and surrounding community.

The architects did not excavate heavily into the ground rock, supporting only service spaces placed underground. Pedestrian and vehicle access is at street level.

Concrete stairway access provides convenient entry into the kitchen and dining area when windows are opened to the central south-facing loggia. A loggia simply means a room or gallery with one or more open sides. Within the Lumino House, there is access to lower and upper floors by a stairway. There are two bedrooms, each with access to its own terrace.

Sustainable Design

Earlier, we alluded to the concept of concrete as a cold, unforgiving, or closed material. Generally associated with the brutalist architectural period, buildings were perceived as cold and unwelcoming.

There is a hidden truth for the uninformed. Concrete is quite beneficial as thermal mass when considering energy-efficient building design. Concrete optimizes beneficial capture or solar gain, reducing the need for fossil-based heating fuels. Concrete helps reduce heating energy consumption by 2-15%. Concrete also helps smooth out internal temperature fluctuations.

Davide Macullo Architects clearly thought about the benefits of concrete beyond the minimalist aesthetic. They also included a heat pump and photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Lumino House. These cells generate electricity by absorbing sunlight and using this energy to create an electric current to help power the home.

Project: Technical Specs

PROJECT NAMELumino House (Lumino, Switzerland)
CLIENTCristina e Curzio De Gottardi (Twitter)
SIZE AREA5349.66 Square Feet
BUILDING AREA1431.6 Square Feet
TOTAL FLOOR AREA2378.82 Square Feet
FLOOR LEVELS3 (above ground)
TOTAL COST$1,076,055.00 USD (at time of this writing) converted from $1M CHF (Swiss Francs)
MATERIALSMain structure underground: reinforced concrete, the main structure above ground: reinforced concrete and steel, windows: insulated glass, thermo-coated frames.
FINISHESInternal wall cladding: mineral painted gipsboard, external paving: concrete, interior flooring: resin.
PROJECT ARCHITECTSDavide Macullo + Marco Strozzi
INTERIOR DESIGNDavide Macullo + Marco Strozzi
WORK SUPERVISIONEnnio Maggetti, Switzerland
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERIngenere Andreotti & Partners, Switzerland
BUILDING ENGINEERIFEC Consulenza SA, Switzerland

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