Located within a hectare and a half of land, which includes a centuries-old olive garden and ample view over the Adriatic coast, the masseria presents an L-shaped structure made entirely of stone and all its spaces are vaulted.
The restoration project stems from the desire of the client to identify an investment opportunity in Puglia’s tourist sector, particularly for a foreign medium-high target, and that would offer a holiday home for large family groups or company retreats.
The architects Nicolò Lewanski e Federica Russo, who are partners of Valari explain that “As opposed to classical architectural firms, with Valari we want to offer a vaster service, which not only takes advantage of our planning capacities, but also of our managerial ones, together with our deep knowledge of the territory: management of on-sight inspections, interaction with agencies, taking charge of all the preliminary phase of choosing the allotment; therefore being a fully-fledged consultant aside of the client, which is the way we think the role of the architect should evolve in this kind of project and what we did for the Masseria Belvedere project”.
The project curated by Valari has consisted in the refurbishing of Masseria Belvedere’s building, which extends, partially on two levels, for 500 sqm and that now hosts 8 double bed rooms and 8 bathrooms in the existing two-storey volume. It also envisages a yoga room on the ground floor and a games room with cocktail bar. The ground floor, overlooking the sea, hosts the day area, a single space on two levels that follows the rock’s slope and includes a kitchen, a dining room and a sitting room.
Outside, the infinity pool runs parallel to the day area and to the sea-view horizon. Next to it, a solarium, a fireplace, an outdoor kitchen and a second dining and sitting area. On the first floor, the terrace from where to enjoy the sunset, hosts the Jacuzzi.
The planning idea of the masseria was guided by the desire to welcome guests creating spaces which are amplified within their infinite possibilities. “Designing for us means creating spaces that did not previously exist, opening up views that were obstructed, revealing places that were not accessible. Designing the masseria’s plan has been this: creating a series of simple geometries that would allow convivial relations that were non-existent up until that point”.
Before the restoration, the building presented itself as a stone ruin on rocks, and it’s this strong character of the matter that lead the architects in the declination of the contemporary restoration of a pre-existing building of such strength.
“One of the project’s urgencies was also understanding how to unite a contemporary architectural approach to a pre-existence of this type. We decided to work mainly on horizontal elements, identifying connecting geometries oriented towards the sea, so as to underline the primary direction of the project: the kitchen and the dining room table, aligned within the long space of the multi-level living area, the bar table on the first floor that accompanies the gaze towards the terrace and the sea; as well as the pool, the tub on the roof, the outdoor platforms, all run parallel to the horizon.”
Valari also undertook a detailed study of the actual state of the masseria, so as to evaluate the best design mood board.
The planning choices of this project have been defined studying the maternity of the building – the rock floors, the stone walls and the vaults, the various frames and scaffoldings, the different types of stone, the porosities, the different mortars – and the conservation state, that is, the different types of installations - some historical pieces, some more recent, some with reclaimed stones, some more precious.
In some cases it was opted to maintain the rocky character, allowing the hill to enter the project; in other cases more space was given to contemporary materials: micro-cement and plaster to guarantee continuous homogenous surfaces in neutral colours, bleached oak wood for the fixed furnishings, Arpicena marble, the natural, warm tones of the décor and the textiles contributed to giving the rural relic a more domestic feel.
“It was important for us to choose materials which could add the idea of comfort to the masseria’s complexity. The slender lines of the window fixtures in dark steel, the outdoor furniture in coloured metal, the brass indoor lights, like the bathroom fixtures and faucets, are all elements chosen to outline a contrast between the pre-existing and the new restoration, so as to make the perception of space richer” – conclude the architects. The accents of colour are left to the cement tiles, the décor and some lamps. The selection of materials underlines the strong connection with the territory, and the research, conducted with local businesses had the objective of discovering and reutilizing Apulian materials and manpower in a more contemporary key.
“We have also chosen to replicate all indoor social spaces outdoors, the Apulian context and culture don’t allow us to overlook the guest’s outdoor life. In the landscape project, in collaboration with the architect Simona Serafino, together with the pool area, we imagined numerous environments: the rocky garden, the vegetable patch, the orange garden that now also hosts a beach volley court, and the centuries-old olive garden with the hammock area”.