by Barbara Palladino
Villa Saldarini in Baratti, in the province of Piombino, is one of Italy’s best examples of zoomorphic architecture, stemming from the creativity of a visionary designer and of a patron of the arts who loved to dream and hated to conform. It comes to no surprise that, over the years, it was renamed The Dinosaur House or Whale House.
Architect Vittorio Giorgini built the house in 1962 for Salvatore Saldarini, an entrepreneur in Como. His idea was to give life to a zoomorphic building that could fit in with the surrounding natural environment with its continuous lines. The structure was based on layers of galvanized welded mesh covered in cement. While questioned at first, the project’s stability was confirmed by testing it with twice the normal load.
Today, the house belongs to Luca Sgorbini, who inherited it in 2015 from his father, who had purchased it from its original owner in the 1970s.
The animal-like structure rests on the ground on three points, enveloping the central space with curved walls that never reach the ceiling. A spiral of stones set in cement create the pathway that leads to the terrace, and the lines in the building visually end in the chimney, which – as the highest part of the house – emerges from the surrounding Mediterranean shrub. The interiors were designed for a summerhouse, and allow for open spaces similar to today’s modern lofts.
It is a unique and evocative place, able to remain cloaked in mystery and attract curiosity at the same time. If looks were not enough, its location adds an interesting fact: the house rises on the 43rd parallel, just like Santiago di Compostela, Assisi, Lourdes and Medjugorie.
The Dinosaur House in Baratti