Gamondi’s architechtures



Chatting with Gianni Gamondi is a pleasure: the architect of Porto Rotondo, Puntaldìa, Capo Coda Cavallo and Capo Ceraso, the man behind more than 250 villas dotted from Sardinia to the Caribbean, is shrewd and modest, steeped in that very Milanese common sense that comes from a life dedicated to work. He’ll tell you about the time he designed the K Club in Barbuda for Krizia, the one where Lady Diana and the British royals used to holiday (it opened in 1988 and closed in 2014, was bought by Robert De Niro, and then destroyed by a hurricane two years later – editor’s note), about the vicissitudes of building Berlusconi’s villas on the summits of Antigua, or about an Arabian princess who wants to buy Villa La Certosa.

He lights up when he talks about fishing, a passion which in turn says a lot about him: he prefers the freshwater or saltwater paradises scattered around the world to the glitzy parties of the Costa Smeralda – to which he is always invited. “I’ve never been much of a peacock, instead of going to jet set parties, I used to go hunting or fishing at weekends.” Welcome breaks in a life dedicated to work: “we reached the point of having three studios with 15 or so collaborators and as many as 20 construction sites running at the same time. One year I counted 106 flights, I would leave Milan for the Caribbean, then return via the United States, then Milan and straight to Sardinia, directly from the airport.”



But let’s take a step back: fresh from graduating from Milan Polytechnic, a pupil of Gio Ponti and Ernesto N. Rogers, Gamondi arrived in Porto Rotondo in the early 1960s, a friend of Donà dalle Rose and Cascella. They entrusted him with a team of stonemasons from Bergamo to cut the stones that would become the village’s Piazza San Marco. A few kilometres further along the coast, he worked on the development of Porto Cervo: “there was that novelty Costa Smeralda style, and I wasn’t happy: I came from Milan, where we had studied function, image, squares, while here they were asking us to put ghosts on the roofs” he says with a slightly ironic grimace (the reference is to the chimneys characteristic of the ‘Costa Smeralda style’, editor’s note).

Marco Biagi wrote of his architecture “it aims to satisfy rather than to astonish”, a phrase certainly suggested by Gamondi himself, who defined the neo-vernacular forms experimented with in the early days of the Costa Smeralda and Porto Rafael as “surrealist”.


But how can you recognise a Gamondi house?
“I have always worked on tourist destinations, so the answer is simple: a house that looks outwards, very regular and without façades, where the openings onto the landscape are important.”

In short, Gamondi’s way of making houses is based on three principles: breathability, function and the client. Which means: 1. large openings – 2. functionality and liveability of spaces – 3. the relationship with the client “which is, as one of our professors used to say, that thing with which and without which you cannot make architecture”.



Anything else?
“We also add a touch of class”, which comes from adapting to the landscape. “Only by being on site can you define a project and understand how to fit it into the morphology of the terrain. Often we would work between the rocks, the uneven levels and among the plants, which we tried to disturb as little as possible. At Puntaldìa I made a hole in the square (elevated above the sea) to preserve an oak tree, I even removed a piece of Fumagalli’s own house (Peppino Fumagalli, founder of the village) to save a branch of a beautiful juniper tree.”


Villa Nika, Porto Rotondo


A trusted architect of Berlusconi, Gamondi designed his villas in Antigua and Villa Certosa in Porto Rotondo, as well as handling the project for the 100-hectare park surrounding it, including the facilities: three artificial lakes, a vegetable garden, theatre, gym and greenhouse. “We worked for him for 25 years – a very demanding but respectful client who asked to see our designs within a week. Once we managed to make him a swimming pool in record time: from the drawings to the first swim in just 19 days.

There were so many workers, it looked like the construction of the pyramids.” The most recent project for the Cavaliere was the development of Capo Ceraso: a resort with hotels, villas, a golf course with clubhouse, biolake, apartments and a 248-hectare park with an artificial slope for skiing on grass, and cycle and bridle paths, which was given planning permission, albeit partially, in 2023.



To get an idea of the Gamondian universe without climbing over gates and walls around the coast, just pop into Puntaldìa, a village where he designed more than 90% of the buildings: the Due Lune hotel, the piazzetta, apartments and practically all the villas inhabited by high society, which here finds a quiet and reserved, almost anti-hobnobbing environment, where one can enjoy holidays in low buildings, often clad in stone, surrounded by gardens and with a view of the clear horizon dividing the sky from the sea, in the tried and tested style of one of the great architects of the coast.


Gianni Gamondi