Suspended between Nature and Artifice
Architecture has always dialogued with nature and the location of a structure in a prevalently natural setting gives rise to a complex duality. Whereas on the one hand an architectural structure represents an invasive presence, on the other it creates a new equilibrium that emerges from the destruction of the previous conditions, introducing a new genius loci that offers fresh potential to a location previously characterised by an inevitable morphological monotony. Ultimately in Nature nothing remains unchanged. Earthquakes, geological movements, flooding from rivers and the human activities that have occurred ever since men first appeared on the Earth have caused profound geographical changes in every part of the world. Of course it is one thing to seek new equilibriums between the natural environment and an architectural structure, quite another to violate it through invasive projects in which architecture becomes a substantially impermeable boundary between interior and exterior. Technological advances through the centuries led to the development of an extraordinary material, glass, which eliminated the barrier posed by opaque materials and allowed nature to flow freely inside the architectural shell. The search for a relationship based more on symbiosis than on contrast between environment and built structure emerges in the project by architect Hirvoje Pajalic, which focused both on the Istrian architectural tradition and on the morphology of the surrounding area, creating sinusoidal shapes reminiscent of contour lines that represent a geographical area with variable height. The sinuous line of the edge of the swimming pool reduces the distance between two worlds – the built and natural environments – creating a symbiotic relationship between the hotel guests and the surrounding landscape with great natural appeal. The materials used also make an important contribution. The Valmar Sanfior Hotel is set in the splendid natural landscape of the eastern Istrian coast, renowned for its crystal clear waters. When remodelling the terrace and swimming pools, Bioarch collection tiles from Panaria Ceramica were chosen. The collection represents a successful combination of Nature and technology, placing the relationship between man and the environment at the centre of the project. Inspired by Bargiolina (a natural quartzite of outstanding aesthetic quality sourced from Italy’s Piedmont region), the Bioarch collection is ideal for exteriors and interiors when sophistication and durability are required. It is also totally eco-compatible and is produced in factories with a certified Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2004 and EMAS). It has obtained the prestigious ECOLABEL mark and qualifies for LEED credits.