Cap-d'Ail is a seaside resort nestling along the French Riviera. A slightly inland road - Avenue Marquet - runs parallel to the coast, leading east to the Principality of Monaco. It is this luxurious, international urban setting that provides the backdrop for the Baie Marquet multi-storey residential complex designed by the Giovanni Longo and Alessandro Palmarini architectural practice in Milan.
The structure is built on a solid architectural concept, subtly blending Mediterranean elements - the brise-soleil and pergola on the top-floor terrace - and high-performing coating materials able to resist the aggressive seaside weather. The complex consists of two differently-size buildings linked via the landings in the central stairwell on the blind mountain-facing side. The glazed parapets and wooden panel flooring lend this functional structure an air of seaside simplicity. This highly visible stairwell also becomes a defining element for the Baie Marquet Residence, playing an evident role in the structure’s decoration and composition. From the road on the sea-facing side, this central element is very much a focal point. The Cor-ten steel panel cladding brings a nuance to the colour palette, as the full-length side panels contrast with the geometrical patterns created by the inlaid design of the front panels. The resultant effect is both semi-transparent and plays on light and shadow, depending on the amount of external light. The arabesque pattern on the stairwell reflects on the inside of this volume in sunlight and reverberates outside, highlighting the separation of the panels as in a lace weave, when the lights are on inside.
The project clearly defines the base structure, creating an element that is recognisably a unifying and linking element for the entire complex. This continuity is provided by seamless cladding, with the dominant tone being the grey of the rough-cut slabs of local stone. This is only interrupted by the entrance and the two gates to the garages, which are on both the entrance level and the two basement levels below. The entrance introduces some elegantly welcoming touches, with the same stone, but in a polished version, used for the skirting boards, and an "impluvium" that provides charming reflections of the side columns and the arabesque pattern of the Cor-ten panels used for the stairwell.
The size of the apartments vary, ranging from studio flats to larger options. On the garden level, above the street-level garages, there are two apartments per block and access to some green areas. On the top floor, there is only one flat per block, with a longitudinal terrace on the sea-facing side. This is created by "carving" a space in the roofing made of pre-oxidized Tecu copper panels and adding a large pergola created with metal uprights and beams. Almost all the other units on the middle floors have large seafront balconies.
The slightly jutting out bands that mark the different levels on the front help emphasise the horizontal geometry of the structure. The building itself acts as a backdrop against which the verticality of the stairwell soars up, creating an effective composition. The use of pillars and slats frames the facade and creates additional connections between elements. The opaque sections on the front side are clad in Parklex, a highly resistant multi-layered wooden panel, opening up a dialogue with the brise-soleil screens covering the large windows that allow the delightful Mediterranean sun to flood into each apartment.
Location: Cap d’Ail, France
Client: Pizzarotti Group
Gros Floor Area: 3500 m2
Architect: Longo Palmarini Architecture & Partners
Design Team: Giovanni Longo, Alessandro Palmarini, Alberto Facchetti, Cecilia Riva, Fabio Santambrogio, Aurelio Giacomelli, Marta Zerbini
Local Architect: Philippe Genin
Main Contractor: Pizzarotti Cote d’Azur
Projet Management: Monaco Etudes Ingenierie
Structural Design: Intec - Antonio Collu
Mechanical and Electrical Plants: Fimatec
Lighting Design: Artemide
Building Certification: Socotec
External Windows: Gualini
Stoneware Tile Flooring: Caesar
Doors: Oikos, Tre +
Green: Verde Profilo
Parquet: Listone Giordano
Photo by: © Andrea Martiradonna
Longo Palmarini Architecture& Partners
LPA – Longo Palmarini Architecture & Partners is an architecture and interior design office established by architects Giovanni Longo and Alessandro Palmarini. Based in Milan and employing a multidisciplinary team of ten professionals, the office specializes in turnkey projects, ranging from the residential to hospitality sectors.
LPA has worked with some of the biggest names in luxury hotels and with numerous property developers in Italy and abroad.
Its most recent projects include an invitational competition for the Palace Complex in Doha (organized by the P.E.O. Doha Qatar in July 2011), the architecture and interior design of the Origami Building in Cap d’Ail, as well as projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, including the Bole Tower, a mixed use building near the capital’s airport, and the restyling of the Sheraton Hotel.