Press Release. 12 September 2017

Alberto Apostoli for the new SPA of Portopiccolo, jewel of the Gulf of Trieste (Italy)

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In April 2017 the new SPA of Portopiccolo was inaugurated, a project which enriches the luxury offer of this elegant seaside village in carsic stone a few kilometres from Trieste, with Concept Design and Final Design development managed by Studio Alberto Apostoli.


The Location

Portopiccolo is an ambitious and wide-ranging project; an eco-sustainable village built in the heart of the Gulf of Trieste, according to an environmental rehabilitation and urban regeneration project which led to the complete recovery of the former Sistiana Bay quarry, abandoned in the seventies.

At present this authentic seaside village, open all year round, embraced from behind by cliffs and overlooking the most crystal-clear waters of the Upper Adriatic, includes 454 elegant, sea-view residences, a harbour with 116 moorings, one of the best Italian beach-clubs, some boutiques and 10 bars and restaurants, as well as the only 5-star hotel in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and a SPA with personalized treatment paths.

Consistent with the concept of its contemporary aspect, the village features a zero-impact, safe, sustainable and accessible style of architecture, with personalized proposals tailored to the needs of customers.

Studio Apostoli was called on to design the wellness centre, chosen to collaborate in consideration of its profound expertise in the field.

The architectural concept

The concept is spread over three levels, plus a basement floor dedicated to parking and service spaces, for a total area of 3,600 square meters.

The design idea was to follow the genius loci of the cliffs overlooking the sea, alternating natural-coloured stone with the transparency of glass, making it possible to lighten the structure, merging it with the context of the surrounding gulf and opening up breathtaking views for its guests.

The focus on wellness permeates the whole structure, starting from a more collective and choral dimension, on the ground floor, and closing increasingly to intimacy and privacy as you ascend to the floors above.

The ground floor houses the reception, children’s room, conference rooms, hairstyling studio, the training pool and all the changing rooms dedicated to the pool on the floor, the facilities for the upper floors and the external pool system already in operation.

The “fan” shape of the colonnade structure is very peculiar, underlined by contrasting stoneware floor strips, while the imposing “corten” portals frame and define the entrance and the reception areas.

The entrance features an imposing covered porch, which welcomes customers and leads them inside. The building is fully glazed, providing perfect inter-connection between interior and exterior. The reception itself is conceived as a single continuous element between inside and outside. In this way, customers who only use the outside pools can buy a ticket without having to enter the facility, being then directed to a specific changing room. At peak times, flows can be managed in a different way.


On the first floor there is a relaxation area dominated by the in-out pool that blends with the outside and the bay, thanks to the huge windows. Through an opening in the window itself, guests can go out into the outdoor pool without leaving the water. Both indoor and outdoor pools are equipped with various kinds of water games.

The area is equipped with emotional showers, Kneipp path, hammam (tepidarium, calidarium and frigidarium), biosauna and Finnish sauna, as well as a salt cave where guests can inhale micronized iodine or bathe in the salt tub.

The floor also includes the gym, the personal trainer studio and the Cocoon bar serving the wellness area, the adjacent restaurant-bar-banqueting area and the conference room. This room, extending indoors and outdoors, applies the same concept as the meeting rooms: modulation and variability based on opening glass walls to be used alternatively as a single space or many dedicated environments.

The last floor is entirely devoted to the beauty SPA and the wonderful waiting lounge, with a breathtaking view over the sea, a private SPA and numerous cabins that offer a wide variety of beauty treatments; among these is the Panoramic SPA Suite, dedicated to special moments for couples.

The SPA area, slightly secluded for greater tranquillity, develops around a column which becomes the fulcrum for this space. Around this column we find the Kneipp path and an ice cascade, while on the perimeter, in a single glazed curved wall, marked by the same slats seen in the main halls, there are a sauna, a steam bath, emotional showers, relaxation room and a cold water tub, ideal for quick dives that counteract the high temperatures of the various spaces.

An area for iodine cures completes the offer. A naturally shaped pool of saline water gently laps the “shores” of a salt-covered environment for all-round immersion into the element.


The project

The Spa complex is one of the last pieces in this village of considerable size, and stands, for the type of equipment used, as an extremely “energetic” element that insists on a network of sub-services already heavily loaded by the existing buildings. Precisely in the respect of environmental sustainability, Studio Apostoli was commissioned to complete the final architectural and plant planning, providing an integrated design service and site supervision.

The MEP design had to pursue the efficiency and reliability of the solutions chosen, with particular attention to rationalising traditional energy sources and their ease of management and maintenance. It was therefore decided, wherever possible, to equip the complex with solutions which pay particular attention to reducing energy consumption by using renewable sources.

At the same time, the architectural project had to refine and enrich the Concept Design, focusing in particular on the management of technical aspects and the insertion of extremely complex wellness facilities and water systems, to be positioned inside an existing building to which the project had to be adapted.

The study of water basins, diversified between hot, cold, fresh and salty water and placed on different levels, was the starting point for the intervention of Alberto Apostoli, whose greatest architectural effort was to merge the predominant MEP aspect, with an aesthetic appearance of great impact and at “luxury” level.

Spa consulting

On the preliminary design, stemming from careful zoning based on the study of the use of the facility, the customer, the company Rizzani De Eccher, and the manager, Bakel’s managing director Raffaella Gregoris, commissioned Studio Apostoli as SPA Consultant , to draw up the Business Plan of the structure, according to a rather complex prospect, generated by the multiplicity of services offered and their seasonal variability (the facility is ambitiously open 365 days a year and with a range of times from morning to late evening), considering both the guests of the facility and any external clientele, establishing that it can accommodate about 300 people in the public areas.

Apostoli’s in-depth knowledge of the wellness sector has allowed strong and immediate harmony between the parties, enabling both customer and manager to express their needs and to make possible the implementation of a project that was set up as strongly rooted in the peculiarities of the Territory, geared to a high level of services designed to meet the most varied needs and to the use of state-of-the-art technologies, proposing a menu of treatments with strong local inspiration, also in the choice of evocative naming.