ITALY, TUSCANY, fLORENCE, CASTELFALFI
Nestled in the exquisite hills of central Tuscany, near Castelfalfi with its golf course and not far from San Gimignano and Volterra, this prestigious property overlooks an exceptionally unspoilt landscape. It is adjacent to the exclusive golf club of Castelfalfi.
The complex comprises 3 units totalling 700 sqm. Its farm estate of 8 hectares includes 6 hectares of organic olive grove (certified organic) and a fruit orchard. A harmonious garden designed by a famous landscape architect surrounds the villa, and a breath-taking infinity pool with mother of pearl mosaic stands on the edge of the hill. It took the present owner almost 3 years (2009- 2011) to completely refurbish the property to the highest and most modern standards.
The refurbishment particularly focused on the following aspects:
– Uncompromised respect to Tuscan patrimony
– Implementation of eco-friendly technologies
– Minimisation of running costs;
– Maximisation of automation (“user friendly” house with absolute minimum maintenance and human involvement);
UNCOMPROMISED RESPECT OF TUSCAN PATRIMONY
The renovation employed only local skilled manpower with proven artistic background to restore all visible particulars, such as brickwork and painting. Furthermore, the rebuilding of all ceilings adhered to original construction techniques, i.e. with brick vaults in former cowsheds, and with flat bricks (cotto) and chestnut wood beams in other areas.
“Zero footprint” concept
The property’s all-electric setup discards the use of fossil energy. In order to minimise running costs and to balance energy consumption, a solar power plant producing more than 30 megawatts per annum has been built on-site. This, combined with advanced green technologies, awarded this property the much sought after energy performance certificate “A+”.
Examples of implemented green technologies are:
– Vertical closed loop geothermal system (600m of drilling), combined with redundant high-performance heat pumps to heat/cool the buildings
– Pyramid shaped under-floor heating/cooling
– Dual-flow ventilation in all units
– Thick wood fibreboard insulation
– Advanced ventilated roof (13 different layers, including Gore-Tex)
– Polarised low emissivity windows
– LED lamps for all heavily illuminated areas
Practically speaking, combining these technologies allows for a comfortable internal temperature of 22°C during wintertime at a fraction of usual cost and around 10°C difference between internal and external temperature during summertime at almost no running cost, hence avoiding the installation of energy-consuming conventional air conditioning systems.
All four units share the same utilities, which reside in one technical room, but partitioning equipment has been installed in order to allow each unit to operate independently. This design reduces maintenance costs while enhancing overall reliability.
In order to preclude the possibility of irrigation shortages, three independent water supplies have been installed:
1. Potable water is provided via a connection to the public network. Two small intermediate water tanks have been installed so as to streamline the supply. Hot water permanently circulates through highly isolated pipes (1°C of temperature loss per kilometre) in order to enhance the occupant’s comfort. At regular intervals (once per week, at night), hot water temperature rises to around 70°C for a short period of time so as to guarantee bacteria free water. In addition, a water softener removes limestone, as public water is relatively hard.
2. Rainwater is recovered from the roofs and redirected to a very large, armed concrete storage tank with a colossal capacity of 170,000 litres. The water is then filtered twice (25μ and activated carbon) and is subsequently either redirected towards toilets and washing machines or filtered a third time (5μ) and sterilised by a U.V. lamp before being redirected towards the swimming pool. It is needless to point out that the quality of this water is excellent, even if it is not intended to be drinkable.
3. A large pond containing around 900,000 litres of water is strategically located on the highest part of the estate. Its water is distributed to each garden zone through underground piping. The garden, planted with around 7,000 plants, showcases a fully automated watering system that requires minimal human involvement.
The renovation incorporated Northern European style foundations in order to guarantee maximum structural stability and avoid rising damp. As well as complying fully with earthquake requirements, these foundations offer outstanding performance against rising damp, thanks to their advanced type of underground ventilation as well as the presence of Vandex powder, which vitrifies the concrete. In addition, micro-piles have been added to the foundations in order to reduce compressive loading and therefore enhance soil stability in areas where it was believed to be necessary (i.e. the converted hayloft that lies on the edge of the hill).
Whilst the area is deemed safe, the following infrastructure has been installed:
– CCTV system with numerous cameras (12)
– Advanced alarm system (with mobile phone communication)
– Security-proof glass
The estate is connected to the internet through high-speed WI-MAX (8mb/s). Two underground landlines were installed during the repair of the access road. Therefore, broadband is also available through ADSL.
THE INFINITY SWIMMING POOL
The infinity pool is the masterpiece of the property. As the pool lies on the edge of the hill, it offers breathtaking views of its surroundings. What’s more, sunlight superbly reflects off the water thanks to the iridescence properties of the pool’s mother of pearl mosaic.
While its dimensions (14m x 7m) make it undeniably a large swimming pool, its constant depth (1.25m) allows for the practice of most kinds of water sports, including swimming.
As with all other systems in the house, pool water treatment is fully automated and can be done either by salt or by conventional products. Last but not least, the water is heated through the house’s low energy consumption geothermal system.
The sale includes more than 10 parking spaces.
Distance from services: 4km
Autonomous mixed electric self-produced and Geothermal heating
Water: City water supply
Energy Class: A+
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