Monastery of Siloe

Monastery of Siloe

Churches and monasteries

Location: Poggi del Sasso, Cinigiano, Grosseto - Italy
Chief architect: Edoardo Milesi
Partners: Laura Pizzi, Paolo Vimercati
Client: Siloe Monastic Community
Supervisor of works: Edoardo Milesi

Edoardo Milesi's Siloe monastery is a simple, 'silent' construction that seems to have grown naturally out of the landscape on a spectacular rise among the hills of Tuscany's Maremma country. It is inspired by the dictates of the Benedictine Rule and by the natural environment, in a relationship of reciprocal respect and dialogue.
Wood, stone, copper, iron and glass create an essential geometry that manages to speak to us without making any concessions to the superfluous.
Established thanks to a widow's donation of the hill her husband had given her, Siloe is the first monastery in the Grosseto diocese.
Construction began in 2001 with adaptation of a sheepcote which was the only existing construction on the hill. After the inauguration of the chapel of light set into the ground of the olive grove, work began on the eastern wing of the building. The plan is based on the layout of a Cistercian monastery, with a square cloister surrounded by a chapter-house, a common room, a kitchen and a refectory, the monk's cells and guest rooms, a conference hall, a library and the monastery church.
Milesi attempts to create a minimalist architecture, a linear, square geometry which plays with light and interprets the medieval impulse toward perfection rather than striving for showy beauty.

The entire project was conceived while "listening to" the site, effecting a transformation in which the human hand is almost "invisible".
The entrance to the Chapel of Light is marked by two stone walls belonging to the old sheepcote; the bell-tower is made of rough wood, while the altar inside the Monastery is made of stone from Mount Amiata. Light flows in through an opening in the ceiling and two openings on the walls. The key to the whole project is harmony, reflected in both the architectural features and the choice of materials, which interact continuously with nature through dialogue and mimesis.

The form of the constructions follows the lines, interruptions and changes in elevation of the land. The philosophy behind the project led to choice of Ariostea high-tech stones: Ardesia Bordeaux for the interior and flamed Cardoso on the exterior. The variable hues of slate, with its bordeaux hues and veins ranging from brown to grey, create a warm feel which blends perfectly with the colours and materials of the surrounding landscape.
On the outside, on the other hand, it is the grey of Cardoso that prevails, with a flamed surface blending perfectly into the landscape.
The criteria of building biology also guided the choice of particular energy-saving solutions: not only ventilated walls, but wooden floors and a zinc-titanium roof. The project preserves the natural balance of its environment with the aid of wind power and a phyto-purification plant for well water.
The result is fascinating architecture suggesting that man and nature can live together in harmony.

Location: Cinigiano (GR) - Italy

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