Hotel Gusmay

Place: Manacore sul Gargano, Provincial Road 52, Km 14, Peschici (FG)

Author: Marcello D’Olivo

Chronology: 1959 | 1964

Itinerary: Italy goes on vacation

Uso: Hotel 

In 1959, Marcello D’Olivo designed a large tourist complex, a “holiday city” immersed in the Gargano’s lush Mediterranean vegetation, overlooking the shores of the Gulf of Manacore a few meters away. Among the complex’s facilities, only the Hotel Gusmay, designed with sinusoidal shapes to follow the terrain, was actually built, with a smaller annex located closer to the beach.

As the author declared, the hotel recalls the pure forms of the Hotel Pampulha by Oscar Niemayer of 1943, thus representing a strong statement of modernity set in the thousand-year-old Mediterranean landscape. The structure, facing the sea, consists of a two-story white convex volume containing bedrooms. The façade is characterized by a white cement brise-soleil lined with sheet metal and placed on top of a yellow tuff base block, which contains the hall, restaurant, services and other common areas.

The hotel levels are connected by an internal ramp contained in an organic architectural element on the back of the building that recalls the shape of a snail. Another ramp runs outside the volume, leading guests directly from the parking lot to the floors hosting the common areas and the bedrooms.

Inside, the play of concave and convex curves continues in the multi-level hall, illuminated by a light well placed in the ramp’s sinuous volume. The corridors of the upper floors, where the bedrooms are, overlook this triple-height empty space, crowned by three circular skylights.

The bar room is lit by narrow vertical slits running from floor to ceiling and by a continuous horizontal light cut, which highlights the gap between the volume of the base and the upper one of the rooms. This room, which almost recalls an underground space, hosts numerous paintings by D’Olivo.

The other building designed by D’Olivo is the Pronto Ristoro, a circular mushroom body located very close to the beach.

From the shore, the white volume of the hotel emerges from the Mediterranean vegetation like a marvelous contemporary sign telling the story of the euphoric “rush to the sea” during Italy’s economic boom. It represents a dynamic country, confident of the future and open to the novelties of the architectural avant-garde.

Text and Photos by Alessandro Lanzetta