Villaggio Valentino, Ethra Reserve

Nova Yardinia, Castellaneta Marina, Puglia, Italy


In 1996, and again in 2000–2001, Brian collaborated with architect Emilio Ambasz on several features of the Ethra Reserve development, including the theatre and conference centre at Villaggio Valentino – now called the Clarke Room, where a wall of stained glass forms one side of the building's exterior – and the stained glass panelling and ceiling of the Kalidria Hotel and its restaurant. In the work at the Villaggio Valentino theatre, described by Brian as “the first time I felt the real pull of huge organic forms – it was this that inspired the idea for The Glass Wall", the contemporary stained glass forms a curved, radiant, coloured frieze at night when illuminated from within; by day, the mixture of transparent and translucent glass – together with the sculptural relief of the graphic leadlines – form an artwork that also functions as a blind behind which the activity of the theatre can go on undisturbed by passers-by. Brian says: “I felt Villaggio Valentino was immensely successful. I conceived the work as having a nocturnal presence, said ‘Light it up at night’. The plaza in front became a restaurant, because people loved sitting there, because its glow created a kind of theatrical event. I chose, and had fabricated, opal and opalescent glass, so that in the daytime, in the outside light, it looks like sliced alabaster.” Two other stained glass artworks were designed as part of the 1996 scheme, for the amphitheatre and loggia, near Bari in the south of Italy.

In this design, pools of light form onto the floor of the conference theatre and mute the inside of the room. The glass acts as a screen to the strong Mediterranean sunlight, and the room is animated by fragments of colour.” – from the book ‘The Art of Glass: Integrating Architecture and Glass’, by Stephen Knapp.