Levanzo is the smallest of the three Aegadian Islands located west of Sicily, Italy. Most houses concentrate around a small port in the south of the Island. This natural port provides protection from storms, which was important when the main economic activity of the island was Bluefin tuna fishing.
The climate is dry with occasional rainfall during the winter months. The Architecture on the island is typical for the climate and location: buildings have flat roofs and small windows. The interiors are dim. The front door is often the only source of sunlight and fresh air and, when the weather allows it, stays open.
With the decline of the tuna population around Sicily and cheaper imported tuna, fishing is no longer the main source of income. Now most of Levanzo’s approximately 450 inhabitants commute daily to Sicily by ferry. However, a small collaboration of fishermen still exists and uses the town of Levanzo as their base of operations.
The exercise of the semester was to find a site in Levanzo and design a house for five inhabitants. I chose to build a house for a crew of a boat of the fishermen’s collaboration – a captain and four fishermen.
On the main road along the harbour, the fishermen use an old garage for storage. This mostly empty plot provided the ideal site for the building. Not only the existing building can be reused and renewed but also the location near the centre of the village allows the fishermen and other villagers to socialize.
On the south side, the plot is defined through the road and the one storey high garage. Across the road is the harbour. The water can be accessed through a ramp going down the cliff. An apartment building with a restaurant stands next to the plot on the west side. The northern edge of the plot is defined by the steep and rocky hill, where building becomes impossible quickly.
Part of the existing garage becomes the entrance to the house, and the space where the work clothes and supplies can be stored. A new opening in the back wall gives way to a small patio with a staircase leading up to the terrace.
The terrace on the roof of the existing building is the key element to the house. It is the social space where the fishermen spend most of their time on land. Being one floor high above street level provides privacy but still enables the inhabitants to communicate with passers-by and to invite them to join for some fresh fish grilled on the fireplace.
Perpendicular to the terrace, the main building with the kitchen and bedrooms stretches up the hill. The first two rooms are for the crewmembers, and are equipped with a bunk bed and a wardrobe. The captain’s room doubles as small office.
The kitchen is small and mainly used to cook and dine when the weather is bad. A large window behind the sink allows overlooking the terrace and patio while preparing food or washing the dishes.
The construction is done mainly with brick, a material typical to the area. The walls are plastered white to reflect the sunlight. The doors are made out of wood, painted red..