Hotel Punta San Martino

Place: Arenzano (GE), Via Punta S. Martino, 4

Authors: Ignazio Gardella, Marco Zanuso

Chronology: 1956 | 1958

Itinerary: Italy goes on vacation

Use: Hotel

Perched atop Capo San Martino, the hotel is part of a development plan started by the Cemadis company in the early 1950s within the beautiful natural pine forest, on a plateau overlooking the Gulf of Genoa. The complex is articulated into a system of buildings leaning on the promontory, the interconnected blocks housing a small hotel, a residence, a restaurant, a nightclub and two large pools. It expresses a language based on the continuous search for a modern translation of vernacular style. The Gardella and Zanuso design created a sort of modern Mediterranean castle on several levels, consisting of large stereometric elements covered by flat or pitched roofs, porches and open spaces.

The hotel’s location is characterized by a strong presence of vegetation, so it frames the coastal landscape through carefully calibrated views. This complex represented the first of several authors’ interventions in the Arenzano pinewood. Among the great architects who worked there, including Gardella and Zanuso, were Gio Ponti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Vico Magistretti, all creating private villas. In those years, the most innovative Italian masters experimented on the theme of holiday architecture.

This architecture’s details incorporate and renew some stylistic elements typical of the local tradition of this area bordering Italy and France: plaster in Genoese stone or brick paste, slate and Finale stone, wooden shutters without counter-frames, and maritime balustrades.

The bar/restaurant’s common areas are covered by gabled roofs and overlook the Ligurian Sea. In the detail of the juncture between vertical and horizontal elements, the use of materials and textures, and in the parapet design, it is still possible to identify the authors’ poetics, which have only partially resisted the incongruous recent interventions.

The summit building’s roof is dominated by a large swimming pool for hotel guests. Here, a diving platform stands as a visual terminal of the great horizontal surface overlooking the maritime landscape.

Text Fabio Balducci
Photos by Emanuele Piccardo