Splendid architecture for a holiday in eastern Istria
Ester Miletic, Studio 92
Once a fishing village, the town of Rabac is today one of the most popular tourist resorts in eastern Istria. The location is worthy of its description as the Adriatic sea’s «oriental pearl» given its position in the eastern part of the peninsula. It is a landscape of rare beauty where the blue of the sea meets the emerald green of the hills, a land whose traditional identity and age-old historical heritage can be admired in all its splendour.
The town is also home to the renowned Valamar Girandella Resort, a newly-built facility with modern architecture that integrates perfectly into the surrounding landscape, designed by practice Studio92 based in the nearby town of Labin.
«Opened in 2017, the Valamar Girandella Resort and the adjoining Family Life Bellevue Resort in Rabac together form the largest tourist project carried out in Croatia in 2017 with more than 2,500 bed spaces and an investment of over 70 million euros. Most of the original structures dated from the late 1960s, when countless hotels designed by prominent national architects of the times were built on the eastern Adriatic coast. The Girandella project is no exception, and thanks to the skilful urbanisation work consisting of small-sized volumes integrated into the greenery and the intriguing play of spaces of the façades, it continues to be a fresh and innovative presence today. For us at Studio92, it was above all an opportunity to continue the narrative and write a fresh chapter in a story that first began almost 50 years ago. To meet the needs of today’s tourists, the resort remodelling project incorporated relaxation areas such as swimming pools, restaurants and beaches, but without losing the magical atmosphere of a house in a pine wood close to the sea. Special attention was devoted to the choice of top-quality materials, which as well as improving the aesthetics of the spaces also meet the maintenance requirements of a project of this scale. The decision to use Italian ceramic tile fully met both needs, and it proved to be one of the most popular materials used in the project,» said architect Robert Dragogna from Studio92.
The building occupies a splendid position next to the picturesque bay and close to Rabac’s most beautiful beach, Girandella, which has been awarded Blue Flag status for the purity of its crystal-clear waters and the efforts made to protect the natural ecosystem, making it one of the most picturesque locations anywhere on the Adriatic coast. Holidaymakers coming to Rabac in any period of the year will be able to enjoy the stylish hospitality of the Valamar Girandella Resort, which caters for a wide range of needs from luxury villas to hotel accommodation for families. The establishment faces majestically onto the Gulf of Quarnero and looks out over the island of Cres, an image that seems to have been taken straight out of a Renaissance painting. The basic concept underpinning the building is that of simplicity, while at the same time striving to preserve the authenticity and history of the location. In keeping with the resort’s prominent position at the centre of the bay, the architects decided to create a structure with a visually-striking exterior while maintaining harmony and refined taste in all the interior spaces.
The Arborea porcelain tile collection from Blustyle by Cotto d’Este was chosen for the floors in the apartments, the large guest rooms and the restaurant area in a 20×120 cm size reproducing the classical elegance of wood surfaces in a variety of different colours.
This choice of material reflects the attention the architects devoted to nature as a design element.
The daytime area is welcoming and hospitable and stands out for its warm colours and close contact with the surrounding landscape, as though to create an invisible connection with the countryside around the resort. The well-appointed rooms feature contemporary furniture and all modern comforts. The atmosphere is both relaxing and sumptuous in its forms and colours, allowing guests to savour the magic of the summer and contemplate the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.