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A Liberty Style Home at Zero Impact

The world inspires us to find new methods to protect the environment and our planet, starting from little things like the renovation of houses. Because we are guests of Earth!

Raffaele Parasci is an “eco-surveyor”: a surveyor specialized in projects and renovations of zero impact houses.

Interesting is a project realized in Arcisate (a small city near Varese) where he restored a beautiful liberty house.

When was your passion for zero impact houses born?
It’s really a passion! Since I am in contact with buildings, I’ve always had the bump for energetic requalification, transforming literally dated buildings into “A Class.” I improve the comfort, relying on shell and technological systems, to requalify or construct buildings that will consume and pollute much less.

Why the idea to recover an abandoned house?
The building, built in 1910, in the Liberty Style, had a neglected look and wasn’t inhabited for years. My client, I think she was in love for a long time, and after the purchase she had commissioned me for renovation with the rescue of the attic, which would be modern and efficient. Technology help us and my client have believed in my ambitious propose: the “A Class”.

Problems that appeared in the first study?
The basement was in a bad state, the splendid vaults in brick rested on soaked walls, and they had no foundation. So, we had to make an airing external canal and we reinforced the walling, as well as dug and isolated all the floors thermally. Now it’s a dry and livable room. Also, the house’s attic was in wood, but they have been remade for the heating floor installations.

What type innovative materials did you use?
In the basement I “cellular glass” panels for isolating the floor. Cellular glass is an important material to solve the resurgence of humidity and the question of thermal insulation. Other materials were selected for their intrinsic features: 24cm of wood fiber in the new covering, 20cm of “polystyrene coat” on the walling, windows in wood (for low transmission). But the essential thing was the attention of “thermal bridges”: verify that all insulations were arranged without interruptions, like a warm blanket without holes or sprains.

Which technologies of heating did you have use?
At the beginning we relied on “geothermic implants,” which utilize ground heat to warm the house, but the cost was really significant. After, making prevision for consumption, I decided on a 24kw gas boiler, combined with solar panels and a large kettle for heating the 360 square meters of the house. It is important to insulate with attention, and the house will warm itself by living in it (also cooking like only we Italians can do!). Also there are in all the apartments ventilation machines, which guarantee healthy air without loss of warmth.

In your “logbook,” you have reserved a section for the doorway: a jewel of handicraft with lead decorations. Was it hard to bring it back to life?
It was a gamble. How can one maintain a door of 100 years in a high performance building? It was carried to a carpenter’s shop near Venice, disassembled and rebuilt into a new identical door with high insulation. The lead decorations were renovated and set like a jewel. Now, the door exhibits itself in the liberty style and not a draft seeps through a draft.

Next project?
Client demand is the push for wood buildings. I have just completed one in Arcisate; and in a short time, I start another renovation of a beautiful house in Induno Olona (another city near Varese). The prefabricated technology in gestation phase and every year the request for these buildings (for the timing, prices, or extraordinary insulation factors) increases. In the end, wood is a material that doesn’t need much introduction. So visit me at my blog: studioparasci.blogspot.it!

Interview by Davide Corsini.

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