Studio Andrew Trotter transforms 19th-century school into family home in Puglia

Exterior of Casolare Scarani in Puglia by Studio Andrew Trotter

Vaulted ceilings and earth-toned furnishings feature in this house in Puglia, which architecture practice Studio Andrew Trotter has converted from a 19th-century school.

The home, named Casolare Scarani, transforms a girls’ school dating back to 1883 that was abandoned in the 1960s. Through its renovation, Studio Andrew Trotter aims to bring life back to the structure while retaining its original character.

Exterior of renovated Puglia school dating back to 1883
Studio Andrew Trotter has converted a 19th-century school in Puglia

“Prior to the renovation, the school was totally abandoned, with plants growing inside, no doors, and falling plaster,” studio manager Marcelo Martinez told Dezeen.

“The house was beautiful, old, with so much character, and not too big,” he continued. “We wanted to bring it back to life without destroying its essence.”

Exterior of Casolare Scarani house in Puglia by Studio Andrew Trotter
The old school now contains a family home named Casolare Scarani

Having discovered the building a few years before recommending it to its client, the studio was drawn to the abandoned school due to its unique qualities that resemble features of two traditional Puglian buildings – lamias and masserias.

“In the countryside you usually find small lamias, which are stone sheds for the local landowners to store equipment; or very large masserias, where the affluent landowners would have once lived,” said the studio.

“It was quite unusual to come across a building that had the style of a masseria, but the size of a small villa.”

Vaulted walkway outside Puglian house
The building’s original features have been preserved

Studio Andrew Trotter aimed to keep as many of the building’s original features as possible, including its stone portico that has a vaulted ceiling and looks out onto the garden.

“We tried as hard as possible to leave the exterior patina where we could,” said the studio. “Together with the clients, we spent days scraping off years of flaky paint, to reveal the beautiful stone of the portico.”

Arched interior of Casolare Scarani house by Studio Andrew Trotter
Vaulted ceilings feature throughout

Inside, the former school’s vaulted ceilings were kept intact and covered, along with the walls, in a lime plaster created by a local artisan.

The rooms are finished with earth-toned finishes and furnishings, such as traditional stone flooring made from crushed rocks and mortar, which nods to the original design.

An arched doorway to the side of the portico leads to the living room, which sits underneath a star-vaulted ceiling. To one side of the room, an existing recess that was once used for cooking has been kept intact and transformed into a seating area with built-in benches and a fireplace.

“The recess in the living room is one of the building’s original features,” said Martinez. “We believe it was used for cooking and staying warm.”

Earth-toned bedroom with vaulted ceiling
The main bedroom sits on the first floor

The garage and stable of the original school have been replaced with a kitchen and dining room, while an old donkey house now contains a laundry room. The kitchen features a wall of unglazed orange zellige tiles.

Other rooms in Casolare Scarani include a main bedroom suite, which is located on the first floor, along with two downstairs bedrooms.

Earth-toned interior of Casolare Scarani house by Studio Andrew Trotter
Earth-toned furnishings have been added to the rooms

To extend the existing structure, Studio Andrew Trotter added two blocks to the back of the house to contain ensuite bathrooms connected to the bedrooms on the ground floor.

Based in Barcelona, Studio Andrew Trotter has worked on various other projects in Puglia, including a villa made from locally sourced sandstone and a holiday home amidst olive groves in Carovigno.

The photography is by Salva López.

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