Unity, a fundamental element in rural architecture, is recognizable through the use of colours, materials and above all thanks to a specific order of minor volumes if compared with the main bulk.
Structure becomes an expressive action thanks to the most employed building material, the tufa, a porous calcareous rock, excavated inside a quarry in blocks of standard sizes.
The goal is a simple subdivision of the internal space: parallelepiped shapes without external differences, which are usually distributed on two levels in a planimetric scheme of quadrangular shape. Around the residence, a more large space called “mezzana” is reserved for ox and horses grazing.
The surrounding area is fenced by dry walls and called “campana” (bell), it is designed for calves and young horses pasture.
In front of the house there is the farmyard, paved in order to crush the wheat, sideways there are a big cistern and rectangular tanks containing water for livestock.
The court represented a closed space around the castle or the Master’s house, it was the administrative centre of the large estates.
The partition of spaces shown through several practical aspects is emphasized by an architectonic element as the well is, often situated in the middle of the internal court, usually paved with “chianche”.
A kitchen garden was usually present inside our Masseria, it was a small plot of cultivated land situated very close to the house, so that the Massaia could easily accede to it. The garden is usually fenced, in order to protect products from animal invasions. Nowadays the kitchen garden and the farmyard represent the green spaces: private and equipped.
The Apulian Masseria with its great architectonic importance due to its hand crafted feel, isn’t only a house, but it’s an articulate way to coordinate the residence, the work and the social life.
Masseria was born as an independent cell of a restrict productive tissue, it takes a specific characterization in accordance with the morphology of rural land, depending on social changes and on environmental transformation.
Usually Masserie present wide buildings, composed of several spaces on two levels. On the ground floor it is possible to find spaces for production, stables and spaces for generic activities, on the upper floor there is the residence.
Masserie usually have the following typological elements:
Court or courtyard is the uncovered space, it is possible to find it only in rural complex of large dimension. The economy in the large estate reflected on the court that accomplishes to different purposes like the defence from the bandit-phenomenon or the control on each operative sector of Masseria.
In some area, where the pastoral destination prevails (Masserie of Matera area), the court becomes the switching centre of activities and the Masseria is surrounded (on two or three sides) by buildings which have a productive and residential destination.
The master’s lodgings are usually located on the upper floor of the main building, for the access it’s possible to use wide stairs located in the hall of the court.
c)Massaro and workers lodgings
Spaces assigned to Massaro and workers for their rest, are on the ground floor, very close to the spaces of the production. Inside a more elaborate Masseria, rooms dedicated to Massaro become more important, in fact they are located on the first floor in a strategic position, in order to take the entrance under control.
A series of spaces distributed around the court and used as stable, cart shed, or used for production and conservation of wine, milk, olive oil; sometimes there was also a space for the farrier.
The chapel is usually present inside this structure, used for sacred celebrations. It is possible to find an internal chapel on the residential floor, otherwise it is located on the ground floor with the entrance in the hall; it was also located between the spaces of the ground floor with an external access, indicated by a cross. It’s possible to find a real church with an esteemed disposition of volumes and architecture, usually covered by a dome, and provided with an elevate bell tower sideways.
This is the dominant element of this kind of rural architecture. The tower is the main part in the defensive structure of Masserie. Squared or circular shaped garitte and turrets, lied on corbels and situated on the corners, allowed to control the die spaces of the building.
Rural structure sites at a specific distance from Masseria, it was used for sheep-breeding.