One of our creations, “Lucy in the sky”, is in the March issue of the magazine “Case design stili”, which focuses on the type of home design that promotes design culture, through stories about the adventures of those who aren’t afraid of taking risks. As for our own adventure, it all started with a young woman in love with the Beatles and the Apulian countryside. Written by Silvia Monaco, photo by Gianni Franchellucci.
LUCY’S LAMIA STRUCTURE
THE BEATLES AND PUGLIA AS THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD, THE LABOUR OF LOVE OF TWO DESIGNERS FOR AN OLD FARM BUILDING, BUT WITH NEW FUNCTIONS AND ROCK MUSIC AT ITS HEART
by Silvia Monaco | Photo by Gianni Franchellucci
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: the title of the Beatles song which inspired the reclamation/restoration work, with nature as a must for the backdrop
The small village of Speziale is situated between the provinces of Bari and Brindisi, in the Puglia region, an area which is still quite pristine and where recently a new type of quality tourism has been taking shape. All around are olive groves, and dry stone walls and small farm buildings, called lamia structures. They are built of limestone blocks and feature barrel vaulted ceilings typical of the area; fruit of some sort of architectural ‘peasant’ wisdom which has been passed down to us from Roman times, through the occupation of the Arabs in the Middle Ages, and onto the Norman one: structures which often remain, however, in a state of neglect.
Spezyale Design Atelier was created by Laura Pogliani and Nino Piccolo out of their having fallen in love with this area. They are the ‘authors’ behind the restoration project of this small stone tower renamed Lucy, from the “in the sky with diamonds” one in the song by the Beatles. As Nino Piccolo recounts: “There is a stone turret that extends underground into an alcove which was once an olive oil mill, a large citrus grove that can easily be turned into a theatre or outdoor concert hall, and a wall welcoming guests with the notes of the song built into it. This is Lucy, the country residence designed for a young woman in love with rock music. Everything about the place reminds one of the contemporary sound of rock performed live… The electric sky expressed in the song moves through the ancient tower, somehow altering it, then it settles into the China Blue colour of the iron door frames. Bright colours are everywhere you look, creating the illusion of being in the middle of a field of exploding diamonds”.
The old, abandoned, rural building takes back its functionality and embraces a new life thanks to the adrenaline rush of rock. Does it seem too much to ask for? It certainly is not by looking at the outcome of this attentive and precise work, where existing materials, architectural forms, and the nature and lay of the land are all preserved in their original state, combined with new materials and colours and shapes, to create a stratification that does not distort the existing charm in any way, but rather brings them back to life. A small extension, composed of simple shapes, was added to the existing tower: housing the kitchen which was built with the same blocks of local stone and the same tuff stone of the walls that border the exterior space surrounding it, as well as for the citrus grove below, all the way to the portion where the entrance to the underground room is located. The same stone blocks were used as external paving material: traditional rectangular slabs of which the colour seems to blend in with that of the earth surrounding the structure.
“The citrus grove can be transformed into a theatre and outdoor concert venue; everywhere you look there are bright colours, like a field of exploding diamonds”.
The theme garden, defined by the architectural wings of the walls, opens onto the landscape, and offers an extraordinary, absolutely seamless view of the surrounding countryside, thus renewing the age old dialogue that has existed between nature and architecture through time. The already existing, architectural interior part of the small structure is what really stands out: the vaulted ceiling, the niches in the thick walls, the fireplace (turned into a daybed), the siding material and the lime plaster, with its traditional colour that once again ties in to the land and the nature of the place, not to mention the scratch designs still visible on the walls and signs of what was left of the original staircase accessing the rooftop covering. The neutral tones of the resin floors play off the bright yellow of the bathroom walls, built out of formwork wooden planks (with the typical yellow resin), accompanied by Laura Pogliani’s skilful textile design elements: here she chose jute, with its humble origins, unrefined and earthy, but dipped in bright yellow for the hanging room divider which floats all the way down to the floor, reminiscent of the colour of the sun in Apulia. All of the elements for this project, and for other works by Spezyale, come from a process of reinterpretation: from the use of raw materials, found on construction sites and made visible as finishes, to the recovery of vintage furniture reinvented with contemporary fabrics. All this makes for a composition of fragments which meld together out of a passion for the area, and the heart of a striking, new creative phase for two designers who have decided to move the centre of the world to the Puglia region.