Monument conservation

On February 14th 1977, the complex was declared a site of cultural interest thanks to the characteristics of its buildings – the only ones of their kind in Sardinia – and given listed status under Law 42/2004, Article 10. 2 and Article 13 of Law 1089/39.
The report describes “a collection of buildings around a vast courtyard, modelled on late renaissance military architecture, with an arched porch, a circular corner tower and scarp walls around the perimeter, as well as other valuable architectural elements“. The complex includes three buildings and the space between them, as well as a large area on the South East side.

Restoration and maintenance interventions

Below are the Villa’s main historical events since it was acquired by Diana Sei, the company that currently owns the Francesco Morelli foundation. In order to understand the actions undertaken over the years, it is important to highlight that Villa Asquer was purchased with the aim of turning it into a branch of the I.E.D design school. The main restoration and maintenance operations were therefore planned with this goal in mind. However, for strategic and business reasons, Villa Asquer was never turned into a school.

For the 40 years that followed its acquisition by Diana Sei Srl, the villa and its park received several building maintenance and restoration interventions, as well as significant landscape and botanical interventions that shaped its current form and beauty. The entire complex remained for President Francesco Morelli’s private use. This enchantment project, in which he invested considerable cultural and financial resources until his death in 2017, remained separate from his main business activities.

The most ancient set of buildings dates back to the 16th century, as do the adjacent areas, which are also protected under the building’s listed status. It is with noting that all interventions have been carried out with the purpose of improving the site, respecting its original artifacts.

Diana Sei purchased the whole property from the Asquer family, including all the buildings, a forest, and land totaling almost 23 hectares.
Francesco Morelli, President of the Istituto Europeo di Design and director of the buyer company, initially planned to use the villa as the Cagliari branch of his school.
Photographs from the time it was purchased show the condition of the buildings and their surrounding areas at the time. The outdoor areas were overgrown or used as fields or pasture areas, with the exception of the forest on the North side, which would later become the reason why the entire property was declared a landscape conservation area.

The whole complex, save for one building, was in complete disrepair and had been subjected to repeated acts of vandalism and neglect over the years. The buildings were crumbling and the rooves had only survived in certain sections. However, the outline of the original buildings was still visible in certain areas, as were the ancient stone walls and large timber roof trusses. The main elements of the building originally used as a residence, such as the turrets, exterior galleries and annexed building, though still in disrepair, were better preserved.

n 1981, the Superintendence authorized the fencing off of the entire property, following a request by Architect Alfonso Gasperini, who carried out all the work on the property from its acquisition by Diana Sei Srl until the mid-1990s.
During this time, the entire area was fenced off and planning for the restoration of the neglected buildings and outdoor areas began.
In 1982, the Superintendence authorized extraordinary maintenance and restoration works based on Alfonso Gasperini’s project. The architect then proceeded to shape the buildings as we see them today. The project’s initial aim was to preserve the buildings and convert them into the Cagliari branch of the I.E.D school. This aim, however, changed quickly.

The element that stands out to visitors and experts alike is the approach adopted since maintenance work began 40 years ago. Rather than following common speculation logic, considerable intellectual capital and resources were invested in pursuit of ideal harmony and beauty. Superfluous additions and business economics were always left out of the equation, with preference given to noble and natural materials, vast spaces and refined environments. The buildings underwent a significant transformation which always remained consistent with the original artifacts, as we can see from the drawings of different stages of the project.

The buildings

This L-shaped building is the most ancient and best preserved. It includes two stone turrets grouped around an exterior gallery, which was probably originally used a stable. The main building is on two levels and sits at a right angle to the gallery. Its facades are characterized by alternating round arch and lancet windows. T he building is covered by a pitched roof with timber trusses and a Sardinian tile outer layer.

The turrets, which date back to the 16th Century, have similar bases but are of different heights. The shortest is likely to have remained unfinished, and to have been incorporated into the roof of the exterior gallery at a later date. They are made using an opus mixtum technique, with ashlars of different sizes made from limestone mixed with other types of stone, as well as brick.

Building B was very degraded and partially reduced to ruins, and was almost entirely rebuilt from scratch on the original site. Roughly in the shape of a square, Building B used to be a series of storehouses linked by arched passages. Some of these storehouses were very large, and were fused together to create the current structure, characterized by vast,

regularly shaped spaces with large windows connected by a central hallway. There are three double-height rooms and an office space on the opposite side. The hallway is characterized by large windows that open up onto the park and the courtyard between the buildings.

Building C was also very degraded and partially reduced to ruins, and was almost entirely built from scratch on the original site. The rooms of the original building originally served as storehouses, and were characterized by large colonnade porches.

The building was L-shaped with a main body and a secondary wing that functioned as a service area. The current structure of the building was designed by Gasperini in 1982. It contains two large halls, both characterized by a series of French doors on either side, which recall the porches of the original structures.

At the time of purchase, the areas surrounding the buildings were unpaved and overgrown. Moreover, some enclosures (also in disrepair) stood between the buildings, defining areas that had previously been used as storehouses and stock rooms. Photographs form the 1980s confirm the extensive degradation of the site, including the areas adjacent to the buildings.

Following restoration of the buildings in 1993, a plan was made to repair the outdoor areas. Restoration was completed in the early 2000s. Remains of the ancient walls that connected the different buildings and defined the spaces used for farming and pastoral activities during the Asquer period are still present. They have been redesigned into decorative elements, such as the two gate pillars with the wrought iron gate around building A and the wall system that surrounds the South area of building C.

Edificio B - Sala riunioni test alt