Variation of modes of use: functions, users, schedules, etc.

Relationship between the ownership and the form of the investment that allows the transformation

Variation of the overall dimensions of the building

Proportional relationship between new spaces and existing spaces

Relationship between the structural adjustments and the existing structure

Relationship between the forms and types of pre-existing materials and those of the new intervention

Relationship between the image of the new and the image of the existing (mimesis / contrast)


Via Vanella 22, Modica, Italy [36°52'46.5"N 14°46'24.2"E]


Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo



Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo / Ordinary Re-construction

PROJECT - Main Infos

PROJECT: Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo / Ordinary Re-construction

LOCATION: Via Vanella 22, Modica, Italy [36°52'46.5"N 14°46'24.2"E]

YEAR: 2018

ARCHITECT / FIRM: Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo

BUYER: Antonino Nicastro

SURFACE: Preexisting Building 287.68 sqm, After intervention 212.18 sqm

PRICE: € 400.000

A room extends over time incorporating fences, and a stable contains crops and provides shelter to animals. The present structure, embedded in the section of the hill, is a belvedere towards the valley nestling the outskirts of the city. At the back of the existing building, a path winds up to reach the hilltop. The chosen design approach uses different strategies (Conservation / Activation, Demolition / Integration) to preserve spaces and habits while allowing the start of a new life. The relations between the new building, the landscape and the pre-existent buildings are strengthened, lost memories are recalled. The building stands as a mirrored image of the changing object. It takes advantage of the latent potential of the existing space, strongly avoiding any judging attitude toward the quality of both the built and natural environment surrounding it. Any transformation process springs up from from the pre-existing entity, exploited as a building material.

WHAT - Program

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new program is in balance with the existing one.

The client request: reorganizing the existing spaces to obtain a house that can meet the new needs The goal of the project: The layout of the rooms, the details, the materials, the views of the surrounding countryside may satisfy, with some appropriate adjustments, the client’s desire to meet new needs while keeping alive the memory of past times, however problems connected with a “bad” execution impose a partial demolition. The goal of the reconstruction project is not to correct glitches, eliminate defects or delete approximations, inconsistencies, haphazardness but to stratify the existing structure without causing major changes to the scene.

WHO - Financing

TOTAL CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The investor is the property owner.

The owner is the investor.

HOW MUCH - Absolute Dimensions


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions decrease moderately with respect to the pre-existing surface.


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions decrease moderately with respect to the pre-existing volume.

The whole complex is composed of an existing stone building (A) and a new one built in reinforced concrete (B) B / The built volume includes a single covered space and a series of open-air rooms that reduce the original volume of the demolished stable. The indoor houses two small volumes, again in concrete, that contain restrooms and additional domestic spaces. They rise directly from the floor; their position and orientation distribute the fluid space into private, common and circulation areas. A long space, between the stone wall and the front of the building facing north, connects the open spaces to a small courtyard carved out of the stone, the starting point of the path leading up to the hill. This external path during the summer is an alternative to access the internal spaces. Natural ventilation during the summer is granted by the height difference between the windows facing opposite cardinal points. A / The building underwent a conservation and restoration process. It hosts a study room and a bedroom that can be used for guests when necessary. The volume and the surface of the spaces weren't t altered.

HOW MUCH - Relative Dimensions

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new spaces are in balance with respect to the pre- existing spaces.

See absolute dimensions.

HOW - Design Strategy STRUCTURE

TOTAL REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: The original supporting structure has been completely replaced by a new structure.

Volume B/ The external walls and roof covering and the interior volumes are made in tarnished reinforced concrete. The decision to have both the inside and the outside walls in exposed concrete implied the use of double walls of appropriate depth, modulating thermal bridges in order to comply with energy standards (energy efficiency clas A2).

HOW - Design Strategy MATERIAL

PREVALENT REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: The materials chosen for the new intervention show more differences than similarities compared to the pre-existing.

The whole building is equipped with a heating and cooling system with radiant panels powered by a high-efficiency heat pump, while the hot water supply is guaranteed through a solar system with flat panels. The windows are made with thermally broken galvanized steel profiles and double-glazing. Building B: The use of recycled carpentry to build the formwork and the high fluidity of the concrete, necessary to pour in one single cast the double walls, determined the acceptance of the possibility of unexpected flaws and errors. The floor is in tamped concrete. Building A: The floor features local ceramic tiles.

HOW - Design Strategy IMAGE

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The new intervention favors a relationship of continuity with the existing structures.

Emulation, that is the desire to match or surpass the existing structure, seems the most appropriate course of action for the situation: it implies assimilation of the model, interpretation and re-elaboration of the original. The model, in this context, is not a celebrated antique structure but an ordinary construction set in the space between the city and the countryside. he time gap between the original structure and the architect’s intervention inevitably results in metamorphoses and modifications of the model that make any similarities with the original hard to detect. The surface of the sediment, driven by contrasting forces, is corrugated and rises to form a cavity. The living space, container of fluid spaces, here immersed in shadow and there exposed to the light, replicates proportions, shapes, heights and views of the original model. The vacuum and its imprint, set firmly in the hillside, are the visible facets of an operation that does not seek for adjustments or improvements of the existing setup.