Area – 3266 sqm. | Year – 2020
The project houses twenty high-end apartments within two four-storey towers and two levels of underground parking occupying the entire site. A collaborative work by Álvaro Siza and COR Arquitectos addressed the basic housing issues along with a client briefed premium product.
Álvaro Siza stands out as one of the most acknowledged and appreciated architects of his generation, establishing models on the modernist front. Siza aspired to become a sculptor but a visit to the works of Antonio Gaudi convinced him to be an architect, resulting in his very own distinct style of sculptural architecture. His designs complement closely with the contextual reality, the built spaces being simplistic in nature and respectful to the culture.
COR Arquitectos is a firm centered around public architecture. They believe in finding optimal solutions and designing in coherence with context and technology. A human-centered design approach to attain aesthetics and sustainability.
Though being contemporary the design addresses two local building features – the centrally placed Italian court and a covert Italian villa. Two superstructure masses face each other and build a sense of community with the projecting neighbor balconies. A communal boardwalk connects the two blocks, encouraging a shaded evening stroll. Flanked by green pockets, the lively walkway leads to a historical building blended into the complex.
The larger block is a C-shaped building placed at a distance from the road and greens enclosed within. Another block occupies the space parallel to the other end, built as a stand-alone villa. The residential units have a humble planning and simple composition of living spaces. Four units occupy a typical floor plate of the larger building block accessed by two pairs of staircases and elevators. Two family units sit on each floor of the smaller block. Living spaces within are facilitated with daylight and natural ventilation through the numerous window openings and thoughtful glazing. Functional requirements here govern the built form of the building.
The building blocks are cladded entirely in travertine, a native material of Italy. The homogeneous surface quality of the material imbibes harmonizing character to the built mass. The color scheme is purely natural and the material character works in agreement with the simple flowing plan and the greens around. The cladded façade complements well with the glazed surfaces.
Travertine is a sedimentary limestone with a marble-like texture and great strength. Travertine embellished the ancient Roman palaces and basilicas and became the symbol of Baroque Architecture in the later centuries. Modern polishing techniques today beautify its vein-cut surface and punctuate its properties to make it suitable for contemporary architectural works.
These housing blocks lie between the busy approach roads Via Roma and another much quieter Via Postporta. The former serves as the main entrance to the site while the other gives access through a smaller back entry. The basement parking is approached through the minor road. Built in a suburb in the Gallarate city of Lombardy, the site sits in a residential locality roofed by typical Italian terracotta tiles. The green roof tuned in the design along with the earthy travertine cladding breaks down the monotony and stands out.
Lombardy is a North Italian region, renowned for its detailed and overwhelming Gothic architecture. Called ‘the lake district’ of Italy, Lombardy has more than fifteen lakes beautifying the localities. The geography of the region ranges from the mountainous Alps down to the foothills. A walk around this region is enriched by the cultural calendar of Milan and is mesmerized by the sight of Lake Como. The rich heritage of the place is evident in the 500 museums within the region limits.
‘Light and shadow’ are both important and integrated elements of the building design. Narrow green pockets with walkways alongside act as light wells to the four-storey edifice. Sunshades projected from the vertical surface forms a simple band-like elevational element shading the lively balconies. The dominating horizontal feature of the building is balanced by the free-standing travertine partitions dividing the balconies. Planted vegetation here includes trees and climbers on the site boundary wall. Landscaping and pavements all work in coherence with the building mass to create the desired environment. The entrance gateway to the site starts the sequence of travertine cladded vistas that continue all along the journey through the site. Standing furniture along the central walkway and in the garden is all built-in travertine. The exposed sight of the travertine façade has become a characteristic feature of the project.
The design philosophies of the designers Álvaro Siza and COR Arquitectos varied and so does their expertise. The builders of the projects were the owners and also the clients. A combined work was the key to this masterpiece. Contemporary design approach with a blend of locally available limestone. A series of greens and travertine aesthetics define this project.