A building for all the senses
Uniting technique, aesthetics and functionality to tell a story that can be experienced with all senses: The „Terra del Sole“ restaurant was the perfect project for Italian Architect Rinaldo del Nero. He used natural materials for the new construction in one of his favorite regions – the Valtellina Valley in Lombardy, Northern Italy, near the Swiss Border. The landscape is characterized by deep forests, lush mountain meadows, the glistening river Adda and quaint hamlets, framed by a picturesque Alpine panorama. Yes, the farm’s location near Sondrio, capital of the province by the same name, practically invited the civil engineer to design it to become one with its natural surroundings.
Cozy woodland refuge
Those who enter the restaurant retain the feeling of being out of doors: Del Nero deliberately made nature the main character in his story of the harmony between earth, sun, forest and cavern. The entrance welcomes guests with an earthy atmosphere: Walls made of clay and straw, a stone counter and rustic shelves made of unfinished wood exude the tranquility of forest and field. “Clay is the perfect material in order to ground us. It awakens the feeling of matter: natural, simple, real”, the architect comments on his concept. The characteristic scents of the natural materials add to the authenticity. A lounge leads into the main room: filled with sunlight or, in the evening, the warm glow of floating light fixtures which sets the mood over linen-covered tables and chairs made of straw and wood, in cosy niches. Birch logs lead through the forest area into the grotto. It houses two „lavec“, pots made of soapstone, symbolizing craftsmanship and culinary tradition in Valtellina. Speaking of indulgence: The restaurant’s chef creates all his traditional dishes from local ingredients, the majority of which comes from the restaurant’s very own vegetable garden and adjacent pastures.
All-around sustainable concept
The restaurant is just one component of the Terra del Sole, whose focus is sustainability from A to Z. The farm estate extends over more than 57.000 square meters into the municipalities of Albosaggia und Caiolo. When Terra del Sole was founded in 1990, the property was a kiwi plantation – and a large portion of the area is still dedicated to organic kiwi cultivation. Today it attracts gourmets, nature lovers, families and active vacationers. The estate, lovingly called „a place of art and flavors“ by the proprietor, is graced by art, such as a collection of paintings in the restaurant or statues made of bronze and Carrara marble in the park nearby. All buildings on site – including spacious studios, incorporated into an old tower – were built using ecological construction methods. The farm store offers a selection of regional products. An outdoor relaxation area, a botanical garden with educational nature trails and paths connecting to the surrounding biking and hiking trails, churches, castles, old towns, golf courses and ski slopes round out the options for staying in touch with nature during your holiday.
Photos ©Davide MelloneRead more »
For health and well-being: CLAYTEC clay designer plaster
By selecting clay earth, the architect was only being consistent: Clay is both visibly and tangibly natural like no other building material. „This feeling is important for restaurant guests“, says Rinaldo del Nero. „The sustainability of clay is real. This is why I don’t hide it inside the walls, but I show it.“
The architect used YOSIMA clay designer plaster with a straw textural additive, to bring in this particularly homely natural accent. Thanks to its breathable, thermal and humidity-regulating properties, he also created a healthy indoor climate by selecting clay plaster. Besides the quality of the earthen-clay building materials, their positive influence on well-being was particularly close to the Biosafe designer’s heart: „The buildings we live in should be healthy places.“