The winner of a competition launched by Sergio and Geo Mantegazza, in which some of the most prestigious international architecture studios took part, this building is characterized by a unique and ingenious design where refinement, technology, coherence, transparency and light merge in an expression of luxurious and refined modernity. It is a meeting place and entertainment hub where commercial and cultural activities are combined with a top level residential offer. An analysis of the site reveals two further aspects that had a very important affect on the design: its ideal location on Lake Lugano and the presence of a very busy road leading to the motorway. On the basis of these factors and of the competition specifications that demanded an 11-storey corner building with a maximum height of 35.50 meters, a design was created whose architectural, aesthetic and functional features could best grace an important urban area. The project included a highly technological façade of glass and new metals, whose lightness harmonizes with the imposing volume of the building. Moreover, through the choice of materials, the play of transparencies, reflections and crossreferences, it fits perfectly into the setting of the lake and its surroundings. The parts of the façade that are not glass have a skin of stainless steel sheets, whose surface is worked to create a dialogue with the rest of the building. These steel sheets constantly vary in colour according to the changing light of the seasons and hours of the day. The architecture of the façades reflects two completely different situations. The façade towards the lake is very residential in character and the presence of the glass “sails” gives a rhythm to the length of the building. These projecting blocks have large terraces that are almost winter gardens that can be enjoyed all year round and seem to link the living area to the lake below. The different architectural language used for the façade on the side of the busy road indicates the building’s different function. Administrative offices and shops occupy the whole wing of the building, also taking advantage of high visibility. There is an interesting movement of part of the façade constituted by an element that defines and enhances the design. The theme of the rooftop being a fifth façade is developed through actual hanging gardens, with plants and grass, and areas with plank floors like a ship’s deck. On the ground floor the design includes stores and two large entrances, one for the shops and the other for the residents. The business entrance opens onto four levels, almost like a public courtyard. This was a specification in the competition announcement, and is now a major element and asset of the complex, facing and marking the intersection at the beginning of the lakefront road. Its special feature is that it is an actual lookout point for the visitor with its extremely light suspended stairways and walkways that intersect giving a constantly changing perspective. Two panoramic lifts in glass and stainless steel accentuate the movement of the large shopping area. The immediate transparency offered by the broad sinuous façade consisting of large, curved, glass walls makes an impact on the visitor. A restaurant, a bar and a large extremely technological hall to host events, called Metamorphosis and designed by the Studio Giugiaro, Turin, give onto the oval inner courtyard. On the ground floor a work by the painter Cesare Lucchini decorates the entrance to the administrative part of the building. The entrance hall for the residents develops some of the architect’s favourite themes: water echoing the nearby lake, transparency between exterior and interior and the presence of artworks. Two water features surprise you on entering, then you have a direct view of the garden through the glass, so much so that it seems to be actually in the hall. There is also a work by David Tremlett – an English artist well-known for his artworks in museums throughout Europe – 40 metres long and 3 metres high, which occupies the wall leading to the vertical connections. This magnificent mural, personally executed by the artist using original techniques he developed, reflects the synergy between architecture and other artistic disciplines in “making culture”. The upper floors contain residential apartments whose room arrangement is typical of the architect, who always takes into account human requirements and designs spaces to make them seem larger and better able to take advantage of the building’s fortunate location. The construction of the 5 underground floors deserves a special mention, since due to the presence of groundwater an unconventional system called “mole” was adopted. After marking the perimeter with bentonite bulkheads and a buffer bottom with jet grouting, the method consisted in digging out the material with small and medium-sized machines, through large openings made in the slab of the ground floor, to then construct the first basement. The same system was used to excavate and construct all the other underground floors in turn until the 5th floor below ground level was completed. This system adopted successfully without damaging adjoining streets and properties, enabled work to be carried out continually for months without producing disturbing noise and harmful dust. For an architect designing and constructing extremely challenging buildings is always stimulating and enriching. Essentially this is what makes the profession so appealing and exciting.
Projects, Residential Complexes