HomeArchitectureBuen Retiro, a refuge house in the woods of Cuneo

Buen Retiro, a refuge house in the woods of Cuneo



A refuge house in the woods of Cuneo. Buen Retiro is the name of the restoration and expansion of an ancient stone ruin designed by architect Dario Castellino in complete harmony with the surrounding nature in the province of Cuneo (Italy).

From a partially collapsed ruin, overgrown with brambles, the architect ingeniously conceived a modern and organic expansion in burnt larch wood, with large glass surfaces. Here, nature and architecture are conceived as a spatial continuum.

The small and humble stone and lime agricultural structure, with a room on the upper floor and one on the lower floor, has been wisely preserved in form and materials. Targeted interventions for consolidation and roof reconstruction, using reclaimed wood from the Stura valley, have contributed to maintaining its authenticity. The connection to the pre-existing structure is made through an internal wooden staircase, located in the reconstructed and isolated old portico.

The new volume integrates gently with the stone building, clearly revealing its nature as an expansion through horizontal forms and reduced height, fitting delicately beneath the long sheet metal roof.

The expansion features a precise structure with slender wooden pillars resting on a reinforced concrete slab. The walls are made of nailed wooden boards containing CalceLegnoCanapa® insulating panels, a three-component system with low environmental impact and good mechanical, seismic, fire-resistant, and insulating properties. The roof deck is insulated and made with wooden beams and boards.

The southern side of Buen Retiro house is characterized by large single-glazed windows, creating a visual continuity with the outside and eliminating the distinction between interior and exterior. Harmony with the natural context is ensured by the dark coloring of the frames and strips covering the insulated portions of the facade and internal partitions.

The careful choice of materials and colors to integrate with the surrounding environment is accompanied by a distinctive play of contrasts in the design. The smaller windows of the original building express a desire for protection, while the expansive panoramic glass conveys a sense of openness and complete immersion in the landscape. Through these generous windows, nature flows in and out of the house, creating an unparalleled connection between interior and exterior spaces.

Dario Castellino exclusively used wood from the area in the new construction, positively stimulating local energies and economies. He preserved the material using the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique, which imparts greater resistance to weathering, parasites, water, and even fire.

In addition, the Buen Retiro house is completely energy self-sufficient thanks to the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof, accompanied by an energy storage system. Overall, this off-grid residence definitely represents a concrete commitment to a zero-emission home.