La Vela, restoration and alteration - Rebosio + Spagnulo
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La Vela, restoration and alteration

Rebosio + Spagnulo

Edited By Francesco Pagliari - 3 September 2014

The original reinforced concrete building was a 1970s restaurant on the Tuscan coast and, in seeking to transform and restore this structure, the architects adopted an analytical approach to determine the key features of this edifice and then draw inspiration from these for its further development. The existing structure was designed around a sense of dynamism, manifest in a corkscrew layout in which emphasis was placed on plastic forms linked to the choice of building material. Interaction between architecture and the landscape was also given importance, using a large, high glazed wall through which one can gaze onto the horizon. Thus, the approach adopted this time seeks integration between the basic elements (a dynamic vision of the forms; emphasis on the large glazed section) and the renovation.
On the practical side, the revamp needed to create areas for complementary yet separate activities. The ground floor is for a fitness gym and, within the corkscrew space, a wellness and spa area that emphasises formal quality and luxury. The upper floor is divided between the indoor restaurant and bar and the large terrace with a bar counter. The 'sails' - supported by stainless steel bars - are designed to provide shelter for the terrace, but also clearly add figurative value to the composition of spaces and volumes, integrating superbly with the sea view and the maritime pines in the background. The sails also interact with the reinforced concrete roof, picking up of its rigid nature and geometry, but using the wind to create the required tension.
In developing the dynamic, plastic nature of this building, the renovation project sought to eliminate all the technical volumes, marquises and windows as well as gutting the interiors. At the same time, the core structure and the essential nature of the complex were maintained to give continuity through a dynamic shape. In the new design, the introduction of tension and fluidity were seen as key ways to overhaul the edifice. As such, strong lines and continuity in the use of materials help define the addition and emphasise the physical and conceptual progression from indoor to outdoor space.
The addition of new forms reinforces this continuity, but through gradual, carefully balanced movements. The path leading from the ground floor to the restaurant is a line that climbs seamlessly like a ribbon, physically incorporating a sense of transformation and "constant movement". It is the organisation of space on this path - consisting of curved surfaces and materials - that enshrines the concept of "essential" at the heart of the design. The handrail in black stone stands out as an almost sculpted element again a backdrop dominated by neutral hues and then becomes the counter for the internal bar before being reproduced for the outside bar counter. The architectural ‘power’ of this ramp influences the interiors and the view from the outside as the glazed section segments the lower band of the façade. Plenty of use is also made of curved lines: the inner railing on the ramp forms into a flowerbed at the top; a curved sitting area almost seems to mark the edge of the dining room; the entrance is marked by an elegant steel marquise that, starting from the ground, broadens and curves to form a canopy at the level of the first floor and by an elegant, textured reception desk with a raised section that, with its contemporary sculpted feel, defines the streamlined volume behind.

Francesco Pagliari