Portelle Building, Sicilian Architecture, Italian Rural House Project, Design

FCN 2009 Portelle: Sicily Architecture

Sicilian Residential Building, Italy – design by M Guiseppina Grasso Cannizzo

28 Aug 2013

FCN 2009

Design: M Guiseppina Grasso Cannizzo

Location: Portelle, Sicily, southern Italy

Portelle Building
photo : Hélène Binet

FCN 2009


– sea view
– covered outdoor area
– relationship with the farmyard
– minimum internal height 3m
– safety
– low budget

Portelle Building
photo : Hélène Binet


The considerations on the nature of the site (a bench of clay with a steep slope), the functional programme, the essential requirements, and the limited budget are the fundamental basis for the idea of the project:

1) Setting the building at the same height of the farmyard raises the walking level over the country level, and therefore assures a larger view of the sea, the possibility of using the farmyard as an outdoor space at the house’s disposal, and the flow of meteoric water

2) Reducing the passage spaces and introducing a caravan (a mobile volume) it is possible to enlarge the needed cubature to start the required functional programme, according to the rules

3) Using prefabricated elements facilitates the access to the site and accelerates the construction stages, also reducing the costs.


The building is composed by two independent constructions: a container-volume, made with prefabricated elements of reinforced concrete and intended as the master’s house (A), and a mobile volume, with an iron structure, intended as the guest residence (B). The entire building, compact during the prolonged closing period, when in use can be split up and therefore enlarged. The mobile construction, moving along two rails anchored to the structure of reinforced concrete, changes the configuration of the entire building widening the view of the sea, while during the long closing period it can be incorporated in the container-volume, becoming an anti-burglary device. The presence of opposite openings ensures natural ventilation and provides various views of the sea and of the country. The use of insulating board and wood ventilated wall ensures a suitable comfort.

Portelle Building Portelle Building Portelle Building
photos : Hélène Binet

Total built area: 115 m2
Total floor area: 86.5 m2
Cubature: 352 m3

Office / Architect: M G GRASSO CANNIZZO / Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo
Collaborators: ICP SRL , G.M.G Engineeing Project, PRO.GE.CO, Salvatore Ingrao

2 Jul 2012

FCN 2009 Portelle

Design: M Guiseppina Grasso Cannizzo

FCN 2009, Portelle, Sicily, Italy

RIBA Awards 2012 Citation:

Situated on the side of a hill, in a seismic area, this is a lesson in freshness of thinking, invention and in the inseparable nature of structure and architecture.

An apparently solid plywood-clad box floats above the site, pitched so as to enjoy the horizon and the distant sea. It prises open by means of a movable guest-wing, mechanically operated, which slides away to reveal a terrace and a glass wall to the main house. The main fixed element of the house is constructed in prefabricated concrete.

FCN 2009 FCN 2009 Portelle FCN 2009 Italy Portelle Building
photos : Sudio Grasso Cannizzo

FCN 2009 Portelle – Building Information

Title: FCN 2009
Practice: Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo
Client: Federica Cimatti

Photographs: Hélène Binet

FCN 2009 Portelle – RIBA Awards winner, 2012

FCN 2009 Portelle images / information from RIBA

Location: Portelle, Italy, southern Europe

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