This is a land that is as impervious as it is desirable. The narrow strip of coast squeezed between the mountains and the sea has been heavily developed, often with holiday homes for people from Milan and Turin who, from the 1970s, have found this area to be an idyllic summer refuge. Only a stone's throw from the coast, the land starts to climb rapidly and impenetrably, making building houses a daunting task, but every view a delight.
At the eastern edge of Albisola, which itself is to the east of Savona, the mountains rise almost sheer above the sea, creating a combination of stunning views and construction complexities that have turned this into an upmarket setting for houses and villas.
This is the site for a 1950s residence that Pierluigi Giordano's A+I architecture practice transformed into a contemporary volume that has a dynamic relationship with the surrounding nature and landscape. At the heart of the overhaul was completely changing the relationship between interior and exterior space. The original construction had practically no flat spaces, with a rapid shift from the road level to the cliff looking out over the sea. A+I worked to alter this by limiting the height of the new building and increasing the flat areas outside, with ramps and extensive projections.
The new building is conceived as a leaf resting on the ground, folding to forge new and different spaces. For example, the ramp that goes gently down from the road almost merges into a sun deck by the pool, and then these areas become elements that border and contain the interior of the house.
The building itself is conceived for two different uses: the owners who live on the main floor, and three guest units on the ground level. This lower level has a small two-room apartment, a suite with a kitchenette and a large double room, all with direct external access and independent relaxation areas. The main house is on the first floor, with three bedrooms and a large living area that is extended by the loggia on the south and east sides.
Outside, at an intermediate level compared to the house and accessible directly from the driveway ramp, lies an area with an infinity pool and numerous facilities for enjoying the stunning sea views, including a pergola with a simple kitchen for outdoor eating, a sun deck and even a small spa for relaxing in beauty.
The sea and the Ligurian coastline, from Savona to as far as Genoa, are the reference points for the design. For example, from inside, the effect is that of a camera photographing these distant places; while outside, the loggia and projections deliberately avoid creating any visual obstacles that would obstruct the infinity of the sea beyond.
Location: Albisola Superiore, Savona, Italy
Clients: Andrea Simoncelli e Barbara
Site Area: 1,611 m²
Gross Floor Area: 451 m²
Principal Designers: Pierluigi Giordano, Giada Maccari
Collaborators: Denise Zago
Main Contractor: Tirex
Electrical: Studio Tecnico Secolo, Per. Ind. Sandro Secolo, Alberto Fantuzzo
Plumbing: Fabrizio Martin
Structural: Roberto De Salvo
Geotechnics: Alessandro Mirenghi
External Flooring: Ideal Work
Doors: Oikos Venezia
Doors and Windows Frames: Schüco
Waterproofing: Polyglass (Mapei Group)
Photography: © Dario Camilotto, courtesy of A+I
A+I is an architecture, engineering and project management practice founded by Pierluigi Giordano, an engineer, in 2004; in 2017, Giada Maccari, an architect, came on board. Over the last fifteen years, the practice has designed and built houses, apartments, plants, offices and showrooms in many parts of Italy and abroad, including Mexico, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Thailand and Spain. In this time, the practice has won various awards, including the 2015 Oikos Entrance Architecture first prize and a special mention at the Under 40 Arches/Il Sole 24 Ore Architecture award at the Triennale di Milano. The practice prides itself on integrated projects, encompassing feasibility studies, architectural design and final detailed design, including utilities and installations, as well as offering project management and works supervision services. It is not tied to any single type of project, with its portfolio a rich array of sizes and types, including public and private spaces, interior designs and trade fair installations. Despite this variety, everything the practice does is tied to its focus on environmental themes and creating a positive impact on a local area through dialogue. A+I has developed a compositional style in which pure forms emerge from simple geometric shapes, avoiding any single material becoming a dominant element. Shapes tend to be colorless or dyed uniform white to create an almost paper origami effect. This symbiosis of form and structure, and the necessary pre-construction checks, are possible thanks to the use of digital tools (BIM, augmented reality and so on) and careful calculations that are done constantly throughout the design process. Extensive care for every construction detail, vast knowledge of each material used and constant experimentation mean the project and final result are always under control, producing buildings in which window profiles, door frames, gutters and other functional elements elegantly slip from view to exalt the essential nature and purity of line that underscore each design.