Former Convent of San Panfilo

LocationSpoltore, Pescara, Italy
Projectarch. Carmela Palmieri, studio CASa Associati
PhotoFabio Di Carlo

Spoltore, near Pescara, dates back to the Middle Ages, its centre standing on a hill that dominates the entire surrounding area. Located between the Abruzzo hills and the sea, this sleepy-looking little town is steeped in history, art and culture. The former Convent of San Panfilo is one of its treasures. It was built by the Benedictines in the 11th century as a monastery and remained as such until 1866, when it was secularized, along with many other ecclesiastical properties. The structure underwent a major metamorphosis in the 15th century, when the Franciscans altered the monastery’s appearance according to the stylistic dictates of the period. They enriched it with numerous Baroque-style decorations and transformed the interior layout into the current one with three wings and a central cloister. The building was purchased by the Cerulli Irelli family in 1892, officially becoming a private residence in 1912.

Restoration work on the entire complex, entrusted to the architects Armillotta, Palmieri and Santomauro of CASaAssociati, returned the building to its former glory and made it suitable for tourism, agritourism and accommodation activities. The work respected the complex’s history and existing architecture: the original structures have been preserved and new areas created that blend seamlessly with the old. The objective of the restoration was to avoid any damage to the architectural and artistic heritage while giving the building all the necessary functional aspects required by the client.

As for the lighting design, the aim in the internal area – the cloister demarcated by the Convent and the church – was to highlight certain architectural features, such as the groin vaults, the bays and the capitals, while keeping the frescoed walls unaltered and unobstructed. Ella Out outdoor wall lights were therefore used. Facing upwards, they do not directly project light onto the vaults and frescoes but illuminate them uniformly with reflected light while also giving a certain rhythm to the space. The typical colour of the building’s bricks is echoed in the red-brown of the fixtures’ cor-ten finish, helping them to blend in perfectly with the architecture and the context. In the cloister's inner perimeter, Ginko 2.0 projectors, with 11° narrow optics, positioned beneath the mullioned windows, provide ambient lighting, while other Ginko 3.0 projectors, with 30° optics, placed in the four corners of the cloister, produce a direct light that illuminates the central element, the well.

Many more projectors are installed in the cellar. These are Spot 2.4 fixtures, 3000K, 58°, with an anthracite finish, chosen for their resistance to corrosion, which makes them suitable for use in damp environments. They are directed at the vaulted brick ceilings and create a warm, diffuse light that adds height to the environment and welcomes visitors to the tasting sessions. To light the portico overlooking the garden, two types of Geko outdoor wall-mounted fixtures were installed on the columns. On the exterior of the portico, Geko 5.1 single-beam fixtures, with 10° narrow optics, point downwards, enhancing the columns’ length; inside, Geko 6.0 double-beam fixtures, with diffuse light, draw attention to the ceiling’s slightly rounded forms. The Geko wall-mounted fixtures’ cor-ten finish, shared with the Ella Out fixtures installed in the cloister, ensures that the fixtures blend in with the architecture to create a uniform look across all the surfaces.

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