Hotel Petronio - Riccione (RN)

A hotel with an origami façade

The architects from the practice Studioundici working on the façades of Hotel Petronio in Riccione transformed what is a normally a temporary project into a permanent architectural fixture
Claudia Capperucci
Eugenio Giovanardi, Tressesanta Studio
Igor Macrelli, Studioundici
Interior Designer
Marco Gabellini
Year of completion

In Viale Carlo Goldoni, a road leading from the shopping streets to the seafront promenade in Italy’s Adriatic coastal resort of Riccione, the angular façades of Hotel Petronio stand out like sharp blades from the more conventional linear profiles of the surrounding hotels. The eccentricity of the architecture is impossible to ignore: the classic porcelain ventilated façade panels appear to come away from the walls, taking on the suspended, angular shapes of folded paper objects and transforming the normally temporary architecture of a seaside tourist structure into a permanent and distinctive element of the surrounding urban context. The project was conceived by architects Marco Gabellini and Igor Macrelli from the Rimini-based practice Studioundici and marks the final step in the complete restyling programme for the Riccione hotel that began a few years ago. “After designing the interiors in accordance with the standard criteria of functionality, on the exterior we had the chance to explore more abstract and purely aesthetic themes. So we decided to conduct an experiment, combining an ephemeral, aleatory form like that of Japanese origami with a solid and highly durable material,” the architects explained. The solid, durable material is Italian porcelain tile, a product that has been extensively tried and tested in exteriors and fits in perfectly with contemporary architectural trends. To get as close as possible to their idea of a pure, milky material reminiscent of the lightness of paper while maintaining the hard, resplendent texture of stone, the architects chose the Design Industry line in the version Oxyde White and the Artwork line in the colour black from Refin Ceramiche in the form of large-size slabs (75×150 cm). The first of these two lines gives the façade a lively metallic effect with an alternation of light and dark tones. The second is inspired by the aesthetics of ancient Venetian stuccoes, with trowel marks and variations in colour and texture, and a reference to the Memphis Style patterns of 1980s Milan. The theoretical and aesthetic contradictions of this architectural experiment (its ephemeral form contrasting with the solid material, the oxidised metals with the soft look of stucco) are resolved to create a harmonious overall effect. But this ambitious project was not without its major engineering challenges, as the owners of the practice explained. “We had to create a hyper-lightweight substructure that would not interfere with the building’s anti-seismic behaviour,” they said. “We also used thin thermal insulation similar to the kind adopted on airliners so as not to interfere with the aeration chamber of the ventilated façade. We marked and cut all the porcelain panels making up the origami structure onsite and literally had to suspend entire portions because we were unable to find a suitable anchor point.” But just like the creation of paper origami, these challenges only enhanced the visual poetry of the end result.

Refin, Design Industry and Artwork
porcelain stoneware
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,2%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 175 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
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