How urban design can increase everyone’s quality of life

Case study: Orbitalis | Lighthouse Sea Hotel

This is not a building, this is an experience.
Orbitalis is not a building. Orbitalis is a path that offers an experience. It is a journey connecting the lighthouse to the sea, by passing through the different features of the site; vegetation, rock & water. Along this path, the visitor experiences a series of moments, views & perspectives that allows him/her to explore his relationship to the different elements of the natural landscape.

Orbitalis is a homage to the historical lighthouse. When approaching the site, there is nothing to be seen except the lighthouse & the existing buildings. Nothing is higher than the lighthouse. It is the project’s centre, & fixed reference point, just like the sun in a solar system. Around the lighthouse, visitors orbit along the elliptical paths provided. The path revolves around the lighthouse, it starts from it, experiences different natural features, frames breathtaking views & always comes back to it.

A trefoil knot: 3 experiences, one infinite journey.
Orbitalis is a trilogy of loops embodying three groups of programs – the cultural, the social & the interaction programs – respectively representing the 3 historical eras of the Greek, Roman & Arab occupations. In fact, The number 3 holds a large significance for Sicily, Siracusa & the site itself. Embedded in the symbol of Sicily itself, trios are also very present in the site: vegetation – rock – water, land – sky – sea, but also horizontal approach – vertical cliff – tidal water…etc

Existing & new functions are connected by the promenade. The cultural program includes an exhibition centre, a scientific study centre, a lecture space & a sculpture garden, all dedicated to the preservation of the Italian heritage of lighthouses. The social program groups the hotel accommodations & the spa. The interaction program houses the restaurant, the bar, the sports activities, the pool & the sea deck. In addition, the existing building at the base of the lighthouse hosts the reception for the hotel, the spa & the exhibition space. The other existing building to the south hosts the reception for the sports facilities.

Although the site is reachable by cars, only pedestrians and cyclists are invited beyond the parking area and onto the path. Experiencing the promenade is best at walking or cycling Speed. Like Italian tradition that remains everlasting throughout the centuries, the lighthouse remains steady while different activities happen around it.

From the sustainability point of view, the project aims to have as little impact on the territory as possible, both in terms of material and energy consumption, and in terms of visual experience of the project on the site.

Sustainability is expressed by materials. The path is made of a light steel structure covered with corten and wood. The volumes underneath the path are realized with the X-Lam system in wood, to ensure reversibility of the project and isolation. They are suspended between the ground and the path to ensure natural ventilation refresh the interior space. Moreover the volumes are moved backward with respect to the edge of the path above, when facing south or south east and west, for natural shading.

For energy sustainability, solar panels are provided all along the path for electricity and warm water supply. Solar panels, that produce electric energy by walking on them, are placed on the path in proximity of an activity, such as restaurant and exhibition space.

A system of water collection is provided with tanks distributed all along underneath the path.

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“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA



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