Residence in Sant’Anna del Volterraio

Place: Bagnaia (Li), Rio nell’Elba, SP28

Authors: Roberto Gabetti and Aimaro Isola, with Guido Drocco and Enrico Moncalvo

Chronology: 1974 | 1991

Itinerary: Italy goes on vacation

Use: Holiday residence

In 1974, Gabetti and Isola presented the project of a residential complex for tourist use that, after a troubled bureaucratic process, was finally realized in 1991. The complex consists of a group of houses gathered in three parallel arrays, which make up a settlement with steps arranged to follow the lot’s orography.

The row houses’ sinuous curve is integrated into the context through careful landscape design and extensive use of vegetation, which covers the buildings’ façades and roofs. From the Volterraio hill, which dominates the internal panorama, the volumes almost disappear; the complex is perceived as a lush park located a few hundred meters from the sea.

The volumes of the houses, covered in colored blocks of concrete with regular stripes, formally qualify the intervention. The light earth-toned colors integrate the building volumes with the landscape and the vegetation, which invades every natural and artificial surface.

The complex is divided into various sectors, some for private houses, others for residences or hotel rooms. The main entrances are aligned with the pedestrian streets and are marked by the presence of tall cypress trees.

The internal distribution recalls that of the Mediterranean villages, with alleys, ramps and open spaces on which the entrances of residential units open. Below the complex, entirely pedestrian, runs a driveway that leads to the parking lot, connected directly to the common areas.

The central garden holds the common services: tennis courts, swimming pools, bar-restaurant and wellness center. The latter are housed in a building that is part of a series of pre-existing farmhouses, also renovated by Gabetti and Isola.

From the green roofs of the houses’ higher levels the curve of the complex can be perceived, embracing the park and the services. On the horizon, immersed in the sea, the hills of the historic center of Portoferraio stand out, with the Stella and Falcone forts.

Text and Photos by Alessandro Lanzetta