The Drugolo Estate is located in gently rolling farmlands near Italy’s beautiful Lake Garda. Its existing properties comprise a number of charming farm buildings in various states of repair clustered towards the architectural centrepiece — an 11th Century castle and the family home.
ReardonSmith developed a master plan for the owner to convert portions of his lands to an exclusive community of residences. This involved a delicate balance between the private domain of the family and the requirements of a successful village destination and between the architectural inheritance of the Estate and modern expectations of the resort environment.
The resulting scheme proposed the demolition of the most derelict buildings near the castle to make way for landscaping. However, the majority of the old buildings were to be retained and converted into apartments, massed to achieve a pedestrian friendly resort with a country club facility at its heart. At a further distance from the castle, the sloping gradient provided the location for new villas, built of traditional materials but with a contemporary interpretation, all with an ideal orientation towards the castle that encapsulates the spirit of this unique development.
ReardonSmith worked closely with the Dal Pozzo family, the owners of Il Castello Dal Pozzo, to produce an ‘audit’ of the entire estate at a time when the family was considering opening certain rooms in the castle to paying guests. The neo-gothic 19th century Castle, together with the Palazzo Visconti - a 42-guestroom hotel – and a magnificent glass green house and out-buildings were set in idyllic parkland, typical of 19th century Italian landscaping, complete with spacious lawns featuring an ornamental lake and an island of weeping willows as well as an abundant variety of rare trees. Most areas of the site enjoyed a clear view of Lake Maggiore, rendering this retreat utterly unique.
Our study fully respected the historic influences throughout the estate. At the same time, it included a commercially viable plan to rework the internal planning of the 19th century castle to create an efficient guest facility, with exclusive guestrooms and dining facilities whilst still maintaining privacy for the Dal Pozzo family who were intending to continue living in a wing of the castle. A conversion of the exceptionally beautiful greenhouse was proposed to create a luxurious retreat spa offering the highest quality treatments in a completely tranquil environment. In addition, the design scheme for The Palazzo Visconti was audited by ReardonSmith in order to assist the local architect in the overall planning and general arrangement of the building.
ReardonSmith was responsible for the re-planning, refurbishment and extension of the famous Le Méridien Fisherman's Cove in the Seychelles.
Fundamental to the concept was the greater harnessing of the resort's luxuriantly mature tropical gardens and the fabulous coastline beyond. The site's definition was transformed with the introduction of a 220-metre decked boardwalk and a series of water features were introduced across the site, the sight and sound of which now hold together the experience. A 70-metre infinity pool was constructed by the shore, seeming to flow into the ocean and offering glorious views along the bay, and a spa was introduced in a tranquil 'Zen' corner of the gardens.
The existing 60 guestrooms were refurbished and a further 10 guest cottages built to match with traditional granite walls, thatch style roofs and private gardens. Inside, however, the rooms were designed to be luxurious contemporary spaces with every modern comfort and amenity.
ReardonSmith was appointed in 2007 to masterplan, design and realise not only a premier destination for superyachts in Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor on what was a decommissioned naval base, but a small town that would attract holiday makers and local people. Equally, the town was to be a practical location for crews and their families to make their home when not at sea. The masterplan concept combined the massing elements typical of historic towns in the region with the principles of “imagability”.
Consequently, the design is respectful of location and architectural inheritance but is also entirely new; it contains familiar spatial relationships that help visitors to navigate their way through the town and it holds intentional surprises to intensify the experience of discovery. Even before the first phase opened in 2010, Porto Montenegro was being hailed as “the new port of cool”.
Seabed and land remediation works were extensive; stone and brick from the old structures were crushed to form aggregate and timbers were preserved for re-use. The new buildings, none higher than five storeys, were constructed in local stone and render with roofing in terracotta and clay tiles. The first phase included studios through to four-bedroom residences, most with large sea-facing terraces, some with their own pool and all with a large first-floor landscaped courtyard and pool deck. Shops, restaurants, cafés and The Porto Montenegro Yacht Club were scattered at considered intervals along the quayside in a progression designed to flow logically from the intimacy of the residential zone to the jet-setting vibe of the marina.
Although the condition of the old naval base meant that most of it was fit only for clearance, a few legacies remained. In particular, one of the old dockyard cranes was refurbished to stand astride the end of the main jetty as an iconic landmark. Other, smaller items were collected, cleaned and stored for a new future in the museum or as an architectural street feature.
ReardonSmith’s scheme for the redevelopment of The Belfry golf and leisure resort was granted planning consent in 2008. Key to the successful application was its sustainability credentials. A BREEAM assessment was carried out on each of the proposed new buildings and full environmental impact assessments were undertaken.
The scheme included a new energy centre, which would deliver 10% of the resort’s total energy demand through on-site renewables; a target 15% of heating and cooling was to be ground sourced. Biodiversity plans for the three golf courses, as well as green roofs and rainwater harvesting and recycling, formed part of the proposal, achieving a sustainable irrigation and drainage system across the resort. Hard standing was to be dramatically reduced by moving more than half the car parking underground and by locating, where practicable, new buildings on existing hard standing.
The design included a new 500-key hotel conceived as a low-rise contemporary building which, with just five guestroom floors, would be below the surrounding mature tree canopy. In addition, the scheme included a new driving range and PGA headquarters, a building to accommodate a national golf training academy and a new leisure complex. The famous Brabazon House façade was to be incorporated into the new Clubhouse overlooking the Brabazon course.
ReardonSmith undertook a major conceptual masterplan study for the development of the harbour at Victoria, the delightful capital of the Seychelles archipelago. The client's brief included the renovation and up-grading of the existing harbour to accommodate a large marina together with a new high-end water-front 'town' to encompass residential, retail, leisure and hotel accommodation.
As a starting point, we researched Creole architecture, other vernacular elements and appropriate materials. The components of the masterplan were carefully orchestrated to be slightly varied one from another so as to ensure a diverse environment which, while sensitively responding to local influences, was not simply a pastiche. Instead, the concept was to create a cohesive mosaic where each element, contemporary and traditional, supports the others by means of contrast or similarity.
As the site is focused around the ocean, water bodies will weave through it, creating a careful pattern of land and water; at the mouth of the harbour, Romanville Island, an existing man-made island, was proposed as the most exclusive element of the plan. The island was to have its own small harbour with a sanctuary style hotel, luxury villas, private members' club and a stylish waterside retail offering. Underpinning the entire concept, was the commitment to sustainable development in terms of occupation, function, service and materials.