Above the roofs of Naples: Ruined monastery restored to life
In the midst of the unique landscape of Naples, on Vormero Hill, a couple bought a ruined 14th-century monastery, completely restored it and fitted it out with a stylish mix of modern and a timeless design.
From the terrace, your gaze sweeps across the mountainside vineyards, olive groves and lemon trees, across the “lower town” of Naples to Vesuvius, the harbour and the Gulf of Naples as far as the island of Capri. In the midst of this unique landscape, on Vormero Hill, Giovanni and Janine have turned their dream home into reality. They bought a ruined 14th century monastery, completely restored it and fitted it out with a stylish mix of modern and a timeless design. For the bathroom and guest WC, the couple chose Kaldewei’s steel enamel bathroom solutions that connect the historical and modern in a very unique way.
Even as a teenager, Giovanni knew that one day he wanted to live with his family, right beside his parents’ home on Vormero Hill. Vormero is the 13th district of Naples and is known as the “upper town”. The houses stand on a green hill and can only be reached by cable car and, in part, only via steep stairs. This is where Giovanni grew up, and this area is still home to three generations of his family. “La famiglia” was also the reason why, after studying and working abroad, he returned to Italy. He and his wife Janine, whom he met on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, began with renting a small house next door to his parents’ home. When the hunt for a suitable property, for his own growing family produced no results, he decided to buy a ruined monastery nearby and rebuild it as a family home.
Special challenges: preservation order and logistics
After thoroughly checking the terms of the preservation order and establishing that the monastery had indeed been used as a residential property in the past, Janine and Giovanni started turning their dream into a reality. The restoration of this ancient building presented the young couple with many challenges. The strict provisions of the preservation order, for instance, specified that the same materials used to build the monastery around 700 years ago, such as chalk and regional sandstone, also had to be used for the restoration – no cement was used at all. In addition, the hilltop location, surrounded by vineyards, called for some special logistical solutions. 150 steps had to be scaled when transporting the required building materials and products. As a result, throughout the entire construction period of 15 months one person was solely employed to constantly drive up and down the hill with a tracked vehicle.
Giovanni gave up his job and devoted himself to managing the building site for a year. To help them implement their ideas, the couple called in the architect Antonio Gravagnuolo, who specialises in listed projects, and the German interior designer Stephan Poeppelmann. Together, they created a unique house that skilfully blends the past and the present.
Interior concept creates link between traditional and modern
“We wanted to retain the character of the ruined monastery. That’s why it was particularly important for us to use traditional materials as much as possible both for the building and the internal restoration and to work with suppliers from the local region,” Janine says. The interior planning corresponded with those wishes: restrained and respectful of the ruin’s history – but at the same time incredibly brave. Talking about the concept, designer Stephan Poeppelmann says: “In keeping with the building’s past life as a monastery which was now to be restored as a home and be a part of the landscape, we didn’t remove corners and niches in existing walls, for example, but used them as spaces to integrate shelves or seating. The colours are restrained and are reminiscent of the vineyard landscape. The main colours are a delicate pastel green and warm shades of brown.” Ancient floor tiles which were salvaged, undamaged during the building work were also used in the interior design concept, as were lots of little apothecary bottles made of coloured glass, some of which have been integrated into the walls, or serve as decorative elements and vases around the house.
Kaldewei bathroom solutions: perfect match between product and room design
“Today’s bathroom is a multi-purpose space with the highest standards of design. The harmonious fusion of architecture, design, functionality and perfect light produce the optimum solution in the bathroom,” says Stephan Poeppelmann, describing the design approach for the bathroom. In fitting out the spacious bathroom, the designer was inspired by the former monastery’s distinctive vaulting. “Naturally, we were impressed by Kaldewei’s natural and classical yet modern shapes. Since we had a round-arched ceiling in the bathroom, we wanted to pick up on that shape with the bathtub and the washbasin. That’s why we decided on the Centro countertop washbasin, whose interior echoes the rounded shape, and the Meisterstück Classic Duo Oval bath,” says Janine, explaining the decision behind their choice. With its seamless panelling, the bath, made of elegant Kaldewei steel enamel, is the classic archetype of the freestanding bath. The Centro countertop washbasin with its spacious surround, designed by Anke Salomon, also exudes a sense of purity and simple elegance.
The Kaldewei trinity in the bathroom is completed with the floor-level Scona shower in a restrained Pearl Grey matt. This shower surface fits harmoniously into the colourfully tiled floor, while the round, centrally-positioned waste cover made of steel enamel also picks up on the round-arch shape. The space-saving wall-hung Cono washbasin works well in the guest WC. The characteristic design element of this rectangular washbasin is the square waste cover which is also enamelled. “With the Kaldewei steel enamel bathroom solutions we have created a Perfect Match between product and room architecture,” says Stephan Pöppelmann.
At home all over the world: Kaldewei steel enamel is a winner
Whether for a new-build or refurbishment, Kaldewei shower surfaces, washbasins and baths are a hit with builders worldwide. The enamelled bathroom solutions meet high aesthetic standards and, thanks to the huge range of different designs and sizes, they fit perfectly into virtually any room. As a material, Kaldewei steel enamel is exceptionally long-lasting and low-maintenance. Stephan Poeppelmann enjoys working with Kaldewei bathroom solutions: “The products are robust. At the same time, they have smooth, seamless lines. Thanks to the wide range of colours, I can pick up on current trends, if required. In addition, high-end design with a modern look should also always take functionality and the day-to-day habits of its users into account.”
Former monastery ruin in Naples – Profile:
Category: Residential building
Restoration period: November 2017 to February 2019
Kaldewei products: Meisterstück Classic Duo Oval bathtub, Centro countertop washbasin, Scona shower surface in pearl grey matt from the Coordinated Colours Collection, Cono wall-hung washbasin
We will be happy to provide further pictures of the restoration and living spaces on request.