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L'Atelier sul Mare  
Alfredo Geloso
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, July 11th 2000, n. 152 (25 dicembre 1998)
Architecture Area

... is a museum which "comes alive" in the presence of those living there. It is a unique experience, one which provides an opportunity to live art in a form which is different from simple visual enjoyment and to be an integral part of it. L'Atelier sul Mare is located at the foot of the Nebrodi mountains, in the part of northern Sicily which lies between Cefalù and Messina, on the magnificent sea of Castel di Tusa.

L'Atelier sul Mare is a hotel of 40 rooms with 110 beds. What distinguishes it from any other hotel and makes it very much a museum, is that more than 14 of its 40 rooms are the fruit of the imaginations of internationally-known artists - Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Fabrizio Plessi, Piero Dorazio, Dario Bellezza, Renato Curcio, Michele Canzoneri, Angel Savelli and many others. Each artist has constructed the interior and the furnishings of one room in a completely original way, making of each an artistic creation. Whoever stays there has the opportunity to live and relax in symbiosis with a work of art.

I imagine the hypothetical guest to enter the Atelier, stop at reception, climb to his room with key in hand and lock the door behind him. From that moment the space becomes "his own", a living museum to enjoy. Not a hotel exhibiting beautiful works of art, but a place where one can live in a museum, a museum on a human scale, with all the art works on a human scale.Whoever wishes, for an hour, two days, a week, can live in the work. I believe this to be a unique experience.

  • Hitoshi Nagasawa, 1991 -

Only when a visitor enters and lives in a room will the work of art be fully realised; the presence, the use of the room is an integral and fundamental part of the work.

  • Antonio Presti (whose idea and creation L’Atelier sul Mare is) -


A description of some of the rooms offers an idea of the originality and uniqueness of L’Atelier.


"The Prophet's Room" by Dario Bellezza, Adele Cambria, Gianni Ruggeri and Antonio Presti, is a homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini. In a corner of the second floor corridor, written half on the wall and half on the door, is a poem by Pasolini. The door falls to the ground like a drawbridge and we enter the room, treading on the thoughts of the poet. A long, dark and extremely narrow corridor creates an atmosphere of growing anguish and the desire for discovery. At the end one glimpses the reflections of another space - a labyrinth of mirrors on walls and ceiling. The corridor leads to the bedroom. It is in arab style, the walls are of straw and mud and in arabic writing high above are translations of the "prophet's" poems. A room bare of ornaments, in the centre is a bed of huge proportions whose feet rest on a reliquary containing sand from the dock where Pasolini met his death.

The bathroom represents the raw and violent side of Pasolini. There is no flooring to the room, but a hard metal grill; on the walls a tangle of metal bars and pipes. The bathroom pipes emit water with a violent pressure and a large fan in the ceiling transforms the space into a huge purifying bath.


"Dreams amongst the Drawings" by Renato Curcio, Agostino Ferrari and Gianni Ruggeri. This work represents the evolution of human writing, starting from the primordial scribblings to arrive at the symbolisation of characters evolving in simple strokes. At the centre of the room is a particularly high bed from which one can observe the stucchi which form the work. Across the room from the floor to the ceiling opposite, human writing on rock, parchment and paper envelops the guest, focusing his attention onto the meanings of the symbols. With careful study meaningful sentences can be made out from their mysterious sense.

The bathroom has been constucted to recreate the inside of a prehistoric cave. On the living rock which makes up the walls rudimentary paintings of ancient hunting and ritual scenes are seen. The washbasin is a bowl of rock protruding from the wall from which hot and cold water spout. In a corner of the room a shower has been excavated: cascades of water spout from the rock walls, collect on a ledge below and are dispersed once again.

"Beatrice’s Paradise" by Angelo Savelli, was inspired by Dante’s work. On the door in golden letters is written, "Do not abandon hope, all ye who enter here". The room is an explosion of white.The floor, the walls, the ornaments are white. White is the colour of the big pentagonal bed, above which the interwoven branches of three white trees form a pure, white vault. On one wall of the room, among the rows of white elastic ropes which rise from floor to ceiling, the perpetual movement of a white pendulum inspires peace and tranquillity. In the white bathroom a pentagonal mirror reflects the lines from Dante's verses which decorate the walls.

"The nest" by Paolo Icaro, is a room in the form of a bird’s wing. The wing envelops the bed whose coverings mimic plumage.

"The room of the withheld sea" by Fabrizio Plessi, is a room overlooking the sea the view of which is denied the visitor, the walls being covered with heavy wooden doors. Opposite the bed at the level of the ceiling, six large screens broadcast a virtual sea - a recording of the view of the 'real' sea which would be enjoyed from the room.

"Trinacria" by Mauro Staccioli, is a space where the triangular form dominates, from the door, a heavy stone prism, to the enormous bed which stretches from wall to wall, from the imposing sculpture in the centre of the room to the ornaments.

"The tower of Sigismondo" by Raoul Ruiz - a tall circular tower descends from the transparent ceiling, at the base of which is an enormous round bed which rotates slowly.



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