by Afra SafaNov 16, 2023
Fabio Novembre has designed a villa that rests on a man-made island in the exclusive Al Gurm Resort, off the coast of Abu Dhabi in UAE.The design comprises expansive floor-to-ceiling gold-framed windows and a garage fronted by an artificial waterfall referred as the “magic door” by Novembre. The Al Gurm Villa adopts a crescent-shaped form, where curved stone-clad walls face the land while sprawling windows look towards the sea. Built for a client who requested high levels of privacy, the architecture “is like a shell on the beach, close and protected from the side of land, open and cozy on the seaside,” says the celebrated Italian architect and designer.
The villa design comprises five bedrooms and reveals a skin made of stone and golden framed glass. The architecture, as per Novembre, is protected from the outside, but completely open to the sea and to the beach. He says, “The villa complements rather than dominates the natural landscape. We often use the metaphor of hiding on a desert island as a need of poetic isolation. Here it is reality." The design takes up the entirety of the residential and tourist development nestled among the mangrove forests of Abu Dhabi.
Arranged into three levels, the villa covers up to 17,000 sqm and includes three concentric volumes bookended by floor-to-ceiling golden framed glass windows. These forms surround a resplendent, oval swimming pool that is located closer to the part of the villa that faces the waters and include spacious living and dining rooms, offices, and studies on the ground level, where glass doors open to the patio, garden, and the pool. The first level is dedicated to a master suite, guest bedrooms and a private living room while the terrace on the top floor with magnificent views of the sea.
“Privacy is a keyword; therefore, I immediately thought about something mute on the outside with layers of walls of different heights, and open as a hug towards the sea,” Novembre explains.
On the ground level, the Al Gurm Villa’s land-facing façade is an imposing curved wall of stone slabs, a muted yet grandiose presence hinting at the luxury that exists beyond. The reflecting pool and waterfall greet visitors at the entrance - this veil of water, marks the transition from the outside world to the private sphere - a preamble to the luxurious setting of the rest of the villa design.
The interior design is curated by studio A++ and follows the residential architecture’s individuality and spirit inside, and is shaded by curved concrete walls, the massive gold-framed windows lending lightness to the space. Defining directionality, a series of lines in the ceiling and floors direct the visitors towards the large windows that look out onto the reflecting pool and the horizon.
The concentric layout and layers progressively embrace the inner courtyard and are protected from the outside by lush vegetation that establish a constant visual contact with nature.
Novembre further shares that the waterfall at the entrance, accessed by a bridge, uses a re-circulated water system, reducing wastage of the natural resource. "It is again used symbolically: a magic door from One Thousand and One Nights, or an oasis seen from afar. The smart nozzle system allows you to write words and draw patterns that interact with the visitors,” he says.
The villa stands out as an example of how the clients' dream and architects’ vision can result in a bold outcome in the form of architectural dimensions.