The Greenary, a residence in the heart of Northern Italy
Built out of a traditional Italian farmhouse outside the city of Parma, the Greenary responds to the idea of biophilia.
International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, in collaboration with Italo Rota, unveiled the Greenary, a residence that revolves around a ten-meter-tall tree at the center of the house.
The Greenary, is a residence that revolves around a ten-meter-tall tree at the center of the house. Multiple living quarters encircle the tree’s leafy branches, all the way up to its top.
Located in the Northern Italian countryside, the house was commissioned by Francesco Mutti, CEO of Mutti, the European leading producer of tomato-related products. The project advances CRA’s research into new ways of fusing architecture, natural elements, and advanced technological solutions.
Built out of a traditional Italian farmhouse outside the city of Parma, the Greenary (a wordplay of “green-granary”) responds to the idea of biophilia, a scientific hypothesis proposed by noted biologist and Harvard professor E.O. Wilson, which suggests that human beings share an innate desire to live close to nature.
This concept is foremost expressed in the 60-year-old ficus tree named Alma standing in the middle of the living space. It belongs to a species called ficus australis that enjoys stable temperatures all year long and is thus well-suited for indoor living conditions.
The Greenary consists of seven terraced spaces, with three among them above the entrance and three below it. These dynamic, interconnected rooms reinterpret 20th-century architect Adolf Loos’ principle of the Raumplan – with nature at its core.
Upon arrival, residents and visitors descend one meter to the main living area and the kitchen, which puts them at eye level with the idyllic meadow outside. The other levels of the house were conceived to form a naturally-inspired journey, throughout which the tree serves as a prominent pillar. Nature is also incorporated in other forms throughout the interior space, such as in flooring that incorporates soil and orange peels.
The house was built on a site that spans over 2.5 hectares. Apart from the main residential unit, CRA also converted a granary at the back of the house into a workspace.
Surrounding both buildings, a garden cultivated by renowned landscape designer Paolo Pejrone celebrates the biodiversity of the local region.
The residence represents the first completed component in CRA’s master plan for the area.
Other planned buildings include a factory facility and a canteen-restaurant complex.
Photos: Delfino Sisto Legnani, Alessandro Saletta, DSL Studio.