Wooden houses and light

An architecture capable of dialogue with the surrounding environment, capable to recall the tradition but also to offer innovative solutions. Also, when the road starts to rise and the slopes are becoming more inaccessible, it is the project of four new houses designed by the architect Mattia Canepa in Fusnengo.


We are in Valle Leventina, in the Municipality of Faido, in the hamlet of Chiggiogna. Looking out the window it is invaded by the green vision of striking basin, looking up you can admire the profiles of Pizzo Pettine, Pizzo Molare and Pizzo Forno, which seem to invite to feed a nearby path to discover an itinerary in nature. With a context similar, the challenge of an architect is to succeed to create buildings that are worthy of it.

How to do? We asked the designer.

Architect Canepa, where will the project be built?

“The four dwellings will be built in a quiet and sunny area almost at the end of a dead-end street leading into the countryside”. 


Looking at the render of the project first thing that strikes you is the originality of the shapes and the choice of cladding. 

“I tried to interpret the natural shapes of the mountains, to reproduce the slopes, the spurs of rock that form the suggestive circle of mountains around it. I was also inspired by the vernacular architecture of the place, those buildings built in the past for activities related to rural mountain economy.”


A purely aesthetic choice?

“No. It wasn’t just an aesthetic choice, in this way I was able to think of higher quality spaces playing with heights, creating special visual relations between the different environments.


What does this mean in terms of concrete advantages?

“Normally for similar dwellings, 5.5 detached houses, you build two living areas with little relation to each other. The choice in Fusnengo was instead to work on three floors containing ground occupation and maintain the “scale” of the context, leaving an opening above the living area on the ground floor, from which the entire structure of the house. This communicates not only an idea of a large space available, but also allows diffuse lighting, which comes from both the ground floor glazing and the openings on the upper floors.”


How is the ground floor organized?

“There is a large open space that joins the kitchen-dining area with the living room. Everything is made particularly bright by the large windows overlooking the outdoor area. There is an absence of a ceiling in the part above the living room. This makes it possible to appreciate the inclinations of the roofs, imagined as spurs of rock, and to establish a dialogue with the upper levels. There is also a covered parking space with a technical storage room, a guest toilet and a cellar in the basement.”


How are the first and second floors structured?

“As I said on the first floor there is an opening onto the living area, so from the study area you can see the

 living area below. It is an ideal place to work. There is a large desk that receives light from the openings

above and from the ground floor. There are also three bedrooms and a bathroom. On the third floor is the master bedroom with bathroom and a suggestive opening that creates an enchanting picture on the valley floor. The third bedroom can become a closed study, given the increase in teleworking due to the pandemic and future work strategies of companies.”


Is wood particularly characteristic in the home?

“Yes. From the supporting structure to the parquet exterior cladding, to the finishes of the wood, these give a special warmth and a feeling of nature to all the rooms. The choice to cover the buildings with vertical

architectural desire to “denounce” the use of this material and to integrate the project into the natural landscape. The wood is a ‘living’ material capable of its appearance over the years until it completely merges with the forest context, it is something exciting!”


Is this part of a sustainable design idea?

“Definitely. We have provided a high-performance heating system such as a heat pump and a series of measures that increase the energy efficiency of the house. In addition, the wooden construction allows, thanks to the hygroscopic property of the material, a natural control of humidity in the environment contributes to providing a sensation of well-being all year round. When climbing in altitude optimizing energy consumption the environment and also the family budget.”

What is on the outside?

“The exterior is characterized by a road in which a second parking space has been created with a concrete roof that creates a movement on the facade of the house, which is made completely with wood. Each house has an outdoor green area accessible from the living area, while the other living area gives access to a pergola with a concrete slab floor. The other window gives access to a pergola with concrete slab flooring that which can be transformed for example, into a lounge, relaxation or games area.”


Who are these homes suitable for?

“It can be a solution for young local people who want to start a family and continue to live in their own territory, but choosing architectural solutions of value. One of these houses costs more or less the same as housing units of a similar size but offers more striking architectural solutions. Furthermore, with the pandemic we are seeing more the phenomenon of families who prefer to live more in contact with nature, in less crowded and stressful environments than city environments. In the case of Fusnengo, the proximity to the motorway allows one to get to Bellinzona in half an hour and in Faido there are still several administrative services present, as well as commercial and sports services. It may be a solution for those who want to find a new place to live in serenity and tranquility”.


When will the houses be built?

“The developer is Galli Immobiliare ( and we are aiming to deliver the houses during 2022.



If we had to write down the keywords of Ticino’s architecture for the future, they would be these.

Architect Mattia Canepa explains: “Architecture has to meet climate  requirements, design with less energy dispersion, thinking about the efficiency of materials, reuse, the cost of grey energy, and a sustainable budget.


Architecture should go back to looking at the territory.

“When designing, it is necessary to think about what may appear to be wasted spaces but which are useful for collective life”.

For Canepa, the combination of man and nature must be put back at the centre.

“We have a responsibility towards the client but also towards the community and the landscape. It is up to us architects to make our clients aware of this, to explain the reasons for certain choices through a cultural pathway”.


Mattia Canepa
Year of birth: 1990
Profession: Architect

After studying architecture at SUPSI

SUPSI, he obtained a Master’s degree in Architectural Sciences of Architecture at the USI - Academy of Architecture and opened his own studio in Mezzovico-Vira. Ever since he was a child he has passion for ice hockey, a sport he plays with the GDT Bellinzona.