Casa Berardi is a small apartment on the ground floor of a 1930s building in Rome, situated in Torpignattara, one of the most historic suburbs of the capital, only a few meters from the ruins of the Roman Mausoleum of Helena and the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter (Ad Duas Lauros).
The apartment was used for many years as the salon of a local fortune teller, although historical city records show that it was originally used as a dwelling. After the fortune teller closed shop, the small space (30 square metres in total), divided into a ground floor and a mezzanine level, was completely abandoned and hidden behind closed shutters.
The restoration project primarily involved fixing the rising damp problem and the installation of the home comforts of heating and air conditioning.
We began by digging by hand below the old floor to a depth of 60cm in order to eliminate the old earth of the foundations, which was soaking wet after decades of rainwater infiltration, and then laying a ventilated underfloor space consisting of modular igloo shaped elements in recycled plastic.
The old plaster, which had also been damaged by the continuous rising damp, was removed from the entire perimeter of the space up to a height of 1 meter from the ground and replaced with an eco-friendly macroporous dehumidifying plaster.
The thermal insulation of the new flooring was ensured through the use of the latest-generation ultra-thin aerogel insulation onto which a porous concrete screed was cast.
The heating system is of standard type with hot water produced by a high energy saving condensing boiler, while during the summer months the apartment is cooled via an air conditioner without an external unit to better integrate with the architecture of the building.
The original window frames – partly iron, and partly more recent aluminium - have been replaced with iron-glass fixtures, typical of industrial architecture of the early twentieth century, but improved by the use of a double-glazing with thermal and sound insulation to meet the standards set by recent laws on heat loss in buildings.
The old mezzanine level constructed in iron and brick was replaced with a new steel structure with a floor in rough wood planks treated with flatting varnish.
The internal layout of the rooms has undergone only minor changes to ensure that the bathroom is fully equipped.
Even more attention has been paid to the choice of finishing materials: flooring and wall coverings with hexagonal tiles in a mixture of 4 melange colours; painting of the walls with highly breathable paints with low VOC emissions; natural treatment with beeswax of rough iron structures; breathable consolidating treatment for parts of masonry brickwork left visible.
The colour of the walls, the lighting and the furniture - some with a contemporary design, others recovered items with a vintage look - were combined to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, reminiscent of what we would might have found after stepping inside a property from the early years of the last century.
If you are interested in using Casa Berardi for a sabbatical in Rome or as a location for films or fashion photo shoots please contact the architect: firstname.lastname@example.org