and window openings needed to be preserved. According to Colombo, work here consisted “mainly of interior design, due to the fact that the beauty of the existing building required only a soft restoration.” The major intervention was externally, in terms of landscaping, a pool, and installing the same services the main hotel building has.

Sustainability and materials

As the architects say, the concept to bring an abandoned island back to life –by reusing existing buildings as opposed to necessitating new construction – is in itself a benefit in sustainability terms. As Colombo says, sustainable achievement “does not only mean generate energy using renewable energies.”

The project had a range of other sustain- ability achievements however, beyond the overall plus of not using new greenfield sites, but also bringing existing architectural gardens back to their original purpose, and reusing all excavated material. Some further sustainability gains are shown in the box (below left).


The spa features steel screening to windows inspired by ancient Venetian shops © JW Marriott Venice

with the goal of creating a venue that serves as an “eco-friendly escape,” says Colombo, “we carefully preserved the red brick facade, wooden pitched roof and uniquely shaped windows.”


• The complex is a “three zero” village, in terms of construction and management – this refers to

zero CO2, zero waste and ‘zero kilometres’ (ie sourcing locally)

• In general, local materials were used throughout as well as local labour

• All the land from excavation was re-used on the island

• High performance building envelope in the new ‘box in box’ additions

• Reduction in energy demand such as lower lighting

•Avoiding rubbish production by producing food on the island

The T-shaped building created what Colombo says was an “amazing opportu- nity to have most of the rooms facing the formal garden on the south side of the island.“ The building also benefitted from existing balconies, formerly used by the hospital for ‘sun therapy.’ The biggest challenge here, says the archi-

tect, was to create a pool on the roof without increasing the load on the existing structure. The solution was a light stainless steel pool construction.

As well as the complexity of construction on top of an existing building, site logistics in terms of transporting materials was a consideration. “Everything had to be trans- ported via water, and the installation of a big tower crane was not possible. We had to work with smaller ones, on boats and we also needed to create a proper camp for the workers,“ says Colombo. La Residenza has had its layout reworked to provide a set of attractive three bedroom suites, but the existing facade

Materials for the project were carefully sourced to strike a balance between an authentic Venetian feel and modernity. Key materials include light fittings blown by a local glass blower, and for the interiors the architect opted for locally available materials such as bricks and tiles, chande- liers from Murano, and Venetian textiles and mirrors.

From ‘macro’ to ‘micro’ design

The architect managed the complexity of the project by shifting from the macro masterplanning across the site to the micro design details that make all the difference to hotel guests. This included the interior styling of the rooms and suites, as well as the bars and restaurants, and all interiors in the spa. Matteo Thun prides itself on a “holistic, sustainable approach in architecture and interior design,” and its architectural and interiors specialists work closely together, enabling them to make decisions fast in addressing what is a fairly wide estate of buildings.

Luca Colombo concludes that this chal- lenging project brought out the best in the firm, thanks to a good relationship with the client: “In a project on this scale we had to deal with a lot of different problems, but thanks to an outstanding collaboration with the investor, the owner and the suppliers, it was completed successfully.”


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