In Udine, the Residence-Club was designed by the Friulian architect Massimo Camillo Bodini, long a collaborator of the master Pier Luigi Nervi. The building is fairly well known, whether because it stands on the main road leading to the city, or because when it was built, in 1979, it was considered technically-structurally and conceptually futuristic. It is built of exposed reinforced concrete with marked overhangs, terraces that display the active role of greenery and plants in mitigating the effects of overbuilding. This monolith rises six stories above ground with 38 apartments; it has an underground area with two parking garage levels and a Club floor with restaurant, swimming pool and gyms that was never completed. Here Cristina Celestino has recently renovated a medium-sized apartment (120 square meters) for a couple living in a house with a garden in the countryside in the Veneto.
And it was precisely thein-depth study of the context of the project that gave the designer, also hailing from Friuli, the illumination to interpret and enhance this space with a wholly female sensibility on the plane of materials, aesthetics and memory, clearly revealing and repairing the pleasantness of an identity without accretions on the skin of the surfaces. “In this architecture by Bodini, with its clearly defined character, angular and squared volumes are combined with soft forms, such as the rounded lines of the stairwells or the circular canopy of the main entrance. The glossy burgundy of the full-height entrance doors to the various apartments contrasts with the textured finishes in concrete and rough plaster. The exposed concrete dialogues with the aluminum surrounds of the large windows, the travertine in the communal areas and the rosy textured plaster of the stairwells,” explains Cristina Celestino.
Her attentive gaze, from the exterior to the interior, enabled her to intervene with carefully calculated counterpoints to the original plan, “which has been maintained, as it was already carefully studied in detail and suitable for the client’s functional needs,” and to change the register and temperature of a domestic landscape comprising living room, dining area, separate kitchen, laundry room, hallway-pantry, master bedroom and guest bedroom, plus two bathrooms. So, in the present nurtured by the legacy of the past, to build the richness of a new experience, the wall-to-wall carpets, very popular in the seventies, were removed and the relationship with the exterior and its classic-monumental rigor brought out by paving the whole living area with the same type of Roman travertine as the terrace onto which it opens completely with sliding aluminum doors.
In the new setting of smooth and opaque surfaces, with an almost velvety texture, the lowered part of the living room was then highlighted with a 40 cm high lateral plinth, which enlivens the fluid and continuous perception of the various islands that compose it. The dining area has been partially shielded byinserting a fixed piece of bespoke furniture with the function of a planter that relates to a bench resting against the wall and with the adjacent protruding block, already originally configured as a functional storage space. This was also reused by the designer to house the air conditioning unit and is now underscored by a brick-colored finish that returns as a leitmotif on other walls and furnishings. This is in harmony with the travertine of the flooring, which in the sleeping area has a simplified design compared to the living room, and with the pale pink tone chosen to emphasize the long walls of the apartment, repeating the hue of the communal parts of the building, entrance hall and stairwell.
“The master bedroom also has the wall of the bedhead made of the same brick as the functional volume in the living room,” continues Cristina. “Here I chose simple wall lighting with matt black metal discs that relate to the bed, an iconic piece by Caccia Dominioni, in metal with brass detailing, very light and airy. The two-tone kitchen, matt lacquered, repeats both the palette of the walls and the tones of travertine. This room is separated from the living area and grammatically made expressive by the double window frame with a fixed part in frosted glass and the door with an oval porthole. The internal doors and windows are original. I decided to keep them because they are very graphic and of good quality, with matt black wood surrounds, glossy polyester lacquered panels and brass handles.”
The retro-future furnishings, a selection of great classics and contemporary pieces, further warm the mise en scène and the close ties with the history of the place, where travertine has become the reference paradigm. The material is very stimulating to a designer and, between finishes and experimental juxtapositions, Cristina Celestino also speaks of using it in new works for Marmomac and Billiani.
Project Cristina Celestino - Photos Mattia Balsamini