Designed by Studio llabb, this apartment for a young couple reflects the dynamics of contemporary art intertwined with everyday life
Located on the highest hill in the historic centre of Genoa, right where the first stronghold was established, the House by the Bailucchi is a renovated apartment for a young couple, designed by Luca Scardulla and Federico Robbiano of studio llabb. The house reflects the lively cultural heritage of the city and the eclectic tastes of the couple—he, a music lover of Italian origin who grew up in France and now owns a gallery in Berlin, and she, of Sicilian origin and now a freelance graphic designer working between Barcelona and London. Flooded with light reflected from the sea, the apartment fits into the intimacy of the neighbourhood and opens up to views of the large machinery in the commercial port that it overlooks.
The port of Genoa has always been a crossroads not only of goods, but most importantly of people and cultures. The Genoese word ‘bailucchi’ defines a specific hook used by the cranes at the port. The hooks are composed of two claws, which by means of a central traction tighten the load to lift it. After all, ‘bailucchi’ is a distortion of the English words “by hooks”, and it sums up the history of Genoese culture made up of port life, labour, meeting places and linguistic thefts. A culture of exchange and creative contamination that, say Scardulla and Robbiano, underlines the projects of the young Genoese studio llabb.
Spread across two floors, the apartment merges two distinct units, of which the one on the upper floor is undoubtedly the most interesting. It is in fact an attic, set back from the edge of the building. The entrance is on the lower floor, where the sleeping quarters are located. Connecting the two levels was the biggest challenge; the space was small and the level difference of 4.20 metres was substantial. A couple of steps lead to a concrete platform—it’s the first feature of the staircase. From here, a light metal structure winds its way up to the upper floor. The treads are in oak and the design of the blue nautical rope handrail reinterprets certain works of famous architects with liveliness and ease.
The underside of the handrail is used to accommodate the ambient lighting. The vertically distributed element contributes, on both levels, to the creation of scenes and backdrops through which the eye loses itself to successive breakthroughs that delicately hybridize spaces and functions. This allows for infinite glimpses into the everyday life of not only the family, but also of the city. The living area on the upper floor stretches in length and the landing of the staircase is located precisely at its centre. To the left is the dining area, to the right is the reading area and the living room, with a small door leading to the studiolo—a very small room that occupies a portion of the terrace. The studio is plunged into the void, its square window reminiscent of the cockpit of a crane. The L shape of the plan and the sloping roof produce dynamic and intense geometries.
Geometrically-shaped openings in the masonry walls follow the spatial flow, developing a sense of refined curiosity about what lies beyond—whether it is the kitchen, the studiolo or a painting. In fact, the apartment in all its spatial complexity, is dotted with works of art from the private collection of the young gallery owner. Each painting comes with its own caption. These are all details that make the apartment feel like something between a home and a small inhabited gallery. The entire living area overlooks the long terrace. Sheltered from the cold north winds, it opens onto the hill of Castello on one side and the port on the other. Here, the sounds of the city known to most people do not arrive, leaving room for the buzz of the port, its busy energy, its cranes—the always active heart of Genoa. Downstairs, in the sleeping quarters, the original Genoese terrazzo floors have been preserved. Particular attention has been paid to the surfaces of the walls in the master bedroom—the wallpaper has been removed; the plaster underneath, once smoothed, has been stabilised with layers of colors and inscriptions.
The House by the Bailucchi, completed during a period of growth for the young architecture firm, elaborates a dialogue between the interior and exterior that sets this renovation in the framework of a lively and confident reflection on the city. Here, the theme of preservation is confronted with the dynamics of contemporary art intertwined with everyday life. With this intervention, the studio established in 2013 as a carpentry workshop, brings out the attention to materials and details, and to the idea of a simple and emotional architecture, inspired by the search for architectural and construction solutions that privilege a confidence with craftsmanship.
Photo credit: Anna Positano, Gaia Cambiaggi – Studio Campo
Project: House by the Bailucchi, Genoa, Italy
Architects: llabb, Genoa, Italy
Design team: Luca Scardulla and Federico Robbiano, with Linda Consiglieri, Laura Davite, Riccardo Gelmini, Martina Pisano and Floria Bruzzone
Project size: Apartment – 135 sq m, Terrace – 100 sq m
Construction company: Zena Costruzioni Srls, Genoa, Italy
Wood Carpentry: Carlino Santo, Genoa, Italy
Metal Carpentry: Metal Project Srls, Casei Gerola (PV), Italy