Imagine living in a place surrounded by art masterpieces. Not likely to happen unless you are a serious collector, and, let’s face it, few of us are. But, if you own a unit at a luxury condominium by AP Thailand, you can now enjoy gazing at the works of master artists such as Natee Utarit, Khien Yimsiri and Pinaree Sanpitak anytime you feel the urge.
Vittorio on Sukhumvit Soi 39 houses 23 pieces ranging from sculptures to paintings—many commissioned especially for the project, others purchased overseas— and all at a cost of over 30 million baht. As Sappasit Foongfaungcheveng, AP head of corporate marketing and director of AP Sign Lab explains, true to its name this “vertical palazzo” was inspired by the art and architecture of Italy and in particular that of the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici, the first grand duke of Tuscany, the U-shaped Uffizi was designed by Giorgio Vasari and constructed in the Renaissance style in 1560. It was meant to accommodate the administrative offices of Florence, and at first only the top floor was used as a gallery for the Medicis’ art collection. The family started off in banking but as the members attained greater political power, they also became patrons of the arts and commissioned and acquired pieces to the point where the Uffizi was soon filled with their growing collection. Today the museum houses one of the finest assortments of Italian sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages and beyond, counting among its masterpieces the likes of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi and Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo.
In order to maintain the privacy of the Medicis, Vasari designed an elevated secret passageway that connects the Uffizi and the nearby Palazzo Vecchio town hall to their residence, the Palazzo Pitti, crossing the Arno River above the Ponte Vecchio. It was used exclusively by the grand duke and his family so they wouldn’t have to walk in the streets when moving between these buildings. The private walkway at the Uffizi is known as the Vasari Corridor and today displays over 1,000 paintings including one of the largest collections of self-portraits by the old masters.
Sappasit explains that AP has borrowed some of the elements from the Uffizi for the Vittorio project. From the space layout to the interior design, the classic ideals of beauty as evidenced in the intricate Florentine architecture have been combined with contemporary grandeur. In the Galleria Medici lobby, curated art works are on display in a museum-like, symmetrical layout with one piece hanging per wall. Featured here are huge paintings by Thai artists, including an exceptional piece by Natee Utarit depicting a Roman head entitled Venus and the Silent Scream, highlighting the Thai-Italian connection.
Vittakarn Chandavimol, AP’s chief of the condominiums business group, adds that much thought has been given to the design of the common areas and interior spaces to provide optimum privacy. Much like the Vasari Corridor, staff serving each unit at Vittorio have their own separate back-of-house utility area with its own lift, so they do not have to use the facilities of the residents. In addition, each floor has only four residences, all corner units that don’t share common walls so there are minimal noise disruptions. The condominium has a total of only 88 units, two of which are three-storey penthouses.
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No Italian-inspired edifice can be called complete without its world-renowned marble. But it was not going to be just any marble for Vittorio. In a process that took around half a year, AP executives worked with Somkiat Jitsangboon of Empire Granite to procure the marble that would do the project justice. And they finally settled on Palissandro Bluette, a marble with grey, blue and brown luminous mineral veins that glitter in the light. Varying in colour according to the mineral content present, a blue shade was picked for the project and has been used mainly for Vittorio’s public areas and the lobby.
The rare Palissandro Bluette is found at only one quarry in Italy at the Piedmontese city of Crevoladossola at the foot of the Alps near the Swiss border. It features beautiful patterns that are bookmatched when installed for maximum effect. Bookmatching is the process of matching slabs of marble so the adjoining surfaces mirror each other, creating dramatic patterns. To get the right quality and designs as required, 10 blocks of 20 tons each were handpicked in Italy at the quarry operated by the Tosco Marmi Group. Since Thailand imposes a higher tax on slabs, the marble was purchased in block form but this means that when they are cut into slabs here, often there is a high percentage of wastage with only about 30 to 35 per cent of each block left usable. “Marble used in projects in Thailand normally costs around 3,000 to 4,000 baht per square metre, but ours ended up costing closer to 10,000 baht per square metre,” says Vittakarn.
White marble from the famous mines at Carrara has also been used for the swimming pool and columns at the Arno Vitality Pool next to the health and fitness facility on the top floor. Thais are familiar with this marble, which adorns well-known buildings and residences and is also used in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and the ubosot of Wat Benchamabophit, often known as the Marble Temple.
Vittorio was unveiled last month. While many condominium projects are sold offplan, Vittakarn says that for ultra-luxury developments like this selling for over 350,000 baht per square metre, its buyers prefer to see the finished product first. “This wealthy clientele has many options, so patience is the heart of our business,” he says.