Located in Altamura, in Italy’s Puglia region, a building that plays with rhythms and colors
Situated in Italy’s Puglia region, Altamura is a town with an illustrious past whose name was inspired by the legendary Queen Althea. Its beauty, nobility, local pride, and a somewhat rebellious streak have also earned it the name the Lioness of Puglia. People have inhabited this area around 25 miles (40 km) from Bari since ancient times, as evidenced by the remains of Altamura Man, a fossilized Neanderthal found in Lamalunga Cave, and the numerous archaeological finds preserved at the National Archaeological Museum. Not far from the museum, in Via delle Cappelle (whose name derives from the ancient chapels along the Way of the Cross), architects Leonardo Lorusso and Pietro Catalano have created a new residential building with significant urban redevelopment value. The building is marked by an interplay of colors and a rhythmic combination of solids and voids. But it’s also an example of how architecture can combine with art, with one of its façades featuring a large mural in white, gray, and a touch of blue that highlights the gesture of the embrace and the importance of the hands. And its message is also reflected by the name of the project itself, Casabbracci or “house of the embraces.”
This splash of contemporaneity brings energy and vitality to a narrow city street with an otherwise quite dated appearance. And it’s further accentuated by the interaction between sunlight and architecture, with the way the sun illuminates the white and yellow of the sunscreens and the blue of the roof creating an almost Parisian charm. The sunscreens themselves – a fundamental passive shading system – also add to the building’s slender verticality, enriching it with an interplay of light and shade.
During the design and construction of this building with nine residential units, a focus on environmental impact and sustainability led to particular choices both as regards materials – which include plaster, stoneware, and iron – and building services. In the case of materials, the basic components were selected both because they respect the current principles of eco-sustainability, and because of their lifecycle and footprint on nature. Meanwhile, the building services and construction methods were chosen in terms of the most urgent climate and pollution issues. Excellent interior comfort levels in both summer and winter were achieved using high-performance services that also provide real energy savings.
Casabbracci is a touch of modernity in an area with a rich history told by the archaeological discoveries of Alta Murgia, ranging from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, and its numerous religious buildings and churches, such as the cathedral dedicated to the Assumption, whose construction was begun by Federico II in 1232.
Location: Altamura, Bari
Architects: Leonardo Lorusso e Pietro Catalano
Client: Edil quattro
Area: 230 m2
Structures and Safety Coordinator: Ing. Pepe Francesco
Systems Engineering and Electrical: Ing. Loporcaro Sante
Sustainability: Ing. Dambrosio Michele
Photography by Pierangelo Laterza, courtesy of the architects