A jewel reflecting Nature
Quality architecture comes about when the different players - developers, architects and builders - see eye to eye and are on the same page. This sort of synergy was evidently at work among those involved in the Colle Loreto residential project in Lugano, Switzerland. Architects at Archea gave form and consistency to the concept of Donato Rita and his company, Bisa Holding. An entrepreneur and keen observer of the contemporary art scene, the client made clear from the outset that he wanted a project where art and architecture converged, in other words, a building that would be both a work of art in itself and a container of artwork. The reference to art is immediately evident in the choice of location halfway up the slopes of Colle Loreto, between the Tassino park and shores of Lake Lugano, and a short distance from the LAC, Lugano’s important new cultural center. A long narrow 5-story building on an east-west axis, its south façade looks out over the lake while the north frontage faces the mountain. The volume contains 12 luxury apartments of differing sizes that share a semi-basement spa and swimming pool and a roof terrace overlooking the lake. The windows of the private apartments frame picture postcard views of the lake and mountains beyond. The semi-basement floor, roof terrace and façades are designed to be the backdrop for the display of independent works of art. In order to free the interiors of cumbersome pillars, the weight-bearing frame was designed as a bridge supported by two stairwells in reinforced concrete. The deep beams of the north and south façades allow for the insertion of large expanses of glazing and support cantilevers at each end extending 21 and 12 meters respectively. This structural solution also supports a large portico on the ground level leading to the entrance and stairwells as well as a long glazed strip allowing light into the semi-basement with the swimming pool, large fitness area, saunas and locker room. The first below-grade level is occupied by cellars allocated to each apartment, while level -2 houses garages and technical equipment rooms. The pillar-free spans on the upper apartment levels maximize floorplan flexibility and allow the inclusion of large outdoor areas. Four apartment typologies are arranged in alternate fashion. They differ in size (from 130 to 220 square meters), in outlook and orientation, with either long loggias running parallel to the apartment or panoramic views from the building’s ship-bow tip. All apartments have a north-facing night zone and a south-facing living area. Like the sculptures in the semi-basement area and on the roof, the building with its multi-alloy metallic mesh is a shimmering work of art. Façades are clad in panels of stratified, backpainted glass in five different hues with an intermediate layer of crumpled metal mesh to give the surface its signature iridescence. Besides the evident reference to some of Burri’s work in the 1950s, the choice of façade material ticks two other boxes: it’s practical and easy to wash and maintain, as required by the client, and its sheen recalls the glinting lake as well as the shades of the mountains all around. The gilded glass cladding contrasts to great effect with the Cor-ten steel paneling of the communal spaces and the porphyry paved pathways. In fact, the combination of glistening glass and rough matt materials takes its cue from the natural landscape of opaque outcropping rock and the sparkling waters of the lake. This luxury building brief in a significant Swiss location where real estate commands top prices gave Archea a free rein in terms of refined and innovative structural and architectural solutions. These were realized employing an ideal mix of Swiss construction precision and Italian craft skills - further proof that quality architecture must be rooted in synergy between the parties involved.