Antonio Iascone makes a hole in one with his expansion of the Casalunga Golf Resort near Bologna, Italy
Josephine Minutillo -- Interior Design, 1/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
In a land where soccer is king, don't be surprised to hear "Tiger who?" But while golf has been slow to catch on in Italy compared with its neighbors to the north, the sport's popularity has grown considerably in recent years. Of course, the Italians have contributed their incomparable sense of style to a pastime well known for its fashion foibles, and that's equally true for clubhouse design. The expanded Casalunga Golf Resort by Antonio Iascone Ingegneri Architetti is the very picture of raffinatezza.
The bucolic setting, just minutes from Bologna, inspired the resort's careful composition. On one side lie ordered plots of farmland; on the other is rolling terrain with a beautiful lake and a small river. "The site is a border territory," Antonio Iascone explains. "Our intervention represents the meeting point of the two landscapes."
Iascone's ¾-acre project comprises five single-story buildings, three of which are connected above ground by a cement walkway and below by a passage. Four of them, dedicated to public functions, are arranged along a north-south axis between a vast swimming pool and a centuries-old farmhouse known as the Casalunga, meaning long house. (It had previously been converted into a restaurant and guest rooms.) The fifth, set perpendicular to the rest, is a long U-shape structure that houses guest suites.
Of the new buildings, the first is the reception center, a glass box that incorporates two existing silos with new barrel-tile roofs. "Reception is where old and new meet," Iascone says. "The silos have become the symbol of the club, so we kept them visible." Beyond reception is the clubhouse, also enclosed entirely by glass to maintain a strong relationship with the golf course, now nine holes with an increase to 18 in the planning stages. "When you're inside," he says, "you can see everything." The clubhouse interior, like most throughout the compound, is furnished with simple white pieces defined by low lines and crisp angles.
The remaining two public buildings, the changing facility and the fitness center, owe their distinctive facades to another native element: Rocks collected from a northern Italian riverbed now fill steel cages to form walls 12 inches thick, the sheer heft of the stone underscored by the lightness of the buildings' large windows. The stone also provides optimal solar insulation. "Things should be beautiful, but there should be solid technological aspects as well," says Iascone, who studied engineering rather than architecture. "I take a formal approach to my work—but not too formal."
In another energy-saving effort, awnings roll out from the clubhouse and drape the swimming pool's bar during the summer months. Hornbeam trees shade the main walkway, keeping surface temperatures down.
A courtyard provides direct access to all eight guest suites. Unlike in the public buildings, where panoramic vistas were a key design element, the suites are closed off from their neighbors by private verandas. The building's exterior combines river-rock walls with cladding in a reddish Indonesian hardwood.
"Variables in this project were many," Iascone acknowledges. "But that's what made it stimulating." He refers to his approach as artisanal, a crafted process in which every detail is examined, every possibility considered. Ultimately, though, it's a question of putting your head down—and taking your best shot.