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Before & after: A 16th century manor renovation

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Today on homify, we are featuring an exciting and award winning before and after restoration project. Located in Montebelluna, in the north eastern corner of Italy, Ca 'Spineda was built in 1560 by Italian nobility. In 1753, it was acquired by a wealthy countess, and then, in 2007, was bought by Giovanni Fabris, and chosen to become a dual living and commercial space. This plan also included the future office space and studio of Welldom. This year, it won the 2014 Rebuild Residential Section, the first competition in Europe entirely dedicated to sustainable redevelopment projects. The building was designed to maximize quality in terms of cost, power consumption, materials and comfort. A restoration project based on the value and beauty of the story, yet with a real sense of the future: the respect for the balance of man and nature.

An ideal home

The villa was required to comply with all the rules that pertained to an ideal home. This meant the design needed to consider and recognise each part of the construction process—engineering, architecture, interior design and lighting, as a single, harmonious entity. The restoration work carried on out Ca 'Spineda, allowed the property to be recovered entirely, respecting the history, but adapting it to modern times. Inside, as mentioned in the introduction, there are now three luxury residential units, and the offices of Welldom. To reach this objective, natural materials and high-efficiency systems, which save 30% energy compared with traditional options, were installed.

A glimpse of the past

The aim of the project was to keep the original character of the home, but combine it with cutting-edge design solutions that focus on the environment and sustainability. Therefore, maintaining the existing building and history was somewhat of a challenge, with the architects only intervening and altering the existing property where is was explicitly necessary. As mentioned, natural materials were chosen with great care, taking into account their compatibility with the guiding principles followed during the operation.


Despite its ragged and rundown appearance, you are able to see the nobility of the villa right away by simply observing the location and sheer scale of the house. The office space and luxury apartments were required to combine innovation and technology together, yet still encompass the various needs of everyday life such as security, privacy, comfort, energy savings and of course, the pleasure of living within these four walls. It was this careful balance between history and technology that resulted in a design that paid homage to the story of the house, ensuring that Ca'Spineda was effectively resurrected with care.

… after

After showing the previous images of Ca'Spineda as it appeared before its face lift, you can now see how the house appears today. The restoration project was for both the interior and exterior, and included also the surrounding landscape. Now, there is an avenue that leads us up to the property, as well as an access ramp to a garage, a path for pedestrians, bicycles and plenty of green open space to roam!

Respecting the natural landscape, the garden now includes maples, boxwoods and wild roses, as well as flower beds and hedges that encase the front of the villa, making it even more spectacular. Included in the project brief, was the idea to create some continuity with the Montello Forest that surrounds the property. This would allow users of the villa to enjoy relaxing walks and hikes, not just on weekends, but everyday. Ca 'Spineda is essentially a country retreat, just one that has the pleasure of being used and lived in daily.


In this image, we can see how the interior has been changed, and now resembles a space that can be lived in. Many elements of the previous shell have been retained, such as the exposed beams and trusses, which remind the occupants that they are living within the walls of a historic, refined and elegant space. It should be known however, that the brick and wood has been reworked to ensure it is as visually pleasing as the day it was first installed.

Ideal life

As mentioned earlier, the redesign of Ca 'Spineda is based on the principles of Ideal Living, but what does this mean exactly? For Welldom, this was a way to create a dialogue between architecture and design, lighting and construction, interior and exterior, including the elegant garden and common areas. This theory is to be laid out according to the principles of integrated design.

Light & furniture

Living an ideal life is not only a theory, but also highly practical, and so, the decor of the house is presented in a luxurious style that draws on elements of industrial warehouse recovery. This in effect creates a union between beauty and the vital elements of construction, to ensure they complement one another.

Forever young

Ca'Spineda, despite the fact it is drop-dead gorgeous to look at, is now what we would refer to as a smart home. Here, beauty and technology have combined to the very best of their abilities. The electrical systems are somewhat of a marvel in themselves, as you can remotely turn off lights that were left on, or close all the curtains for privacy and security reasons. On top of this, there is a centralised vacuum cleaner with self cleaning system that means you can clean every inch of the house effectively, including the garage!

We hope you have enjoyed the tour of this innovative historical property, and that it is used as a model for future developments. Bravo!

What are your thoughts on this manor renovation? What would you have done differently? 
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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