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High Society
High Society
Perspicacity and new perspectives at a glass-walled lookout in Piedmont.
Laura Rysman

On the highest hill overlooking the north Italian town of Biella, Teca House stands like a modernist monument, a glass box astride iron columns and cement planes. Designed by Federico Delrosso, a Biella-raised, Milan-based architect, the contemporary edifice emerges from the low vestiges of an 18thcentury stone silo. Its transparent walls overlook oaks and chestnut trees, with the sharp mountain peaks at the gateway to the Alps visible in the distance. ‘As a child, everyone dreams of building a treehouse,’ says Alberto Savio, the yarn industrialist who commissioned Delrosso for the enterprise. ‘This is our treehouse.’

In Italian, teca means ‘display case’. Inspired by Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House – which was designed as a display case for the minimalist domesticity it contained – Teca House is a display case for what it exteriorises. The glass walls that enclose the house slide back, opening the interiors to the surrounding woods. The interior dimensions, only about a 60 sq m footprint in total, expand by a quarter when adding the wraparound balconies of the cement platform, girded by a barely perceptible glass barrier at its edges. The flexibility renders Teca House party-ready, turning the intimate space – where Savio and his wife Lorella like to read, work, do yoga, and occasionally house a guest for the night – into an extended open area that flows into the outdoors.

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December 2019