The fascinating history of the Covo di Nord-Est is marked by success, grandeur and glamour.
An Italian nightclub par excellence, it first opened in 1934 and has become part of the history of national heritage ever since, marking generations and generations of customers and ... viveurs. To best describe the actions taken to give back the “Covo” its historical splendour, it is necessary to start with a brief but important premise.
The construction work began back in 1898. The dwelling should have been the residence of Baron Franchetti’s lover, an Austrian opera singer. The death of the Baron, who committed suicide after the abandonment of his beloved caused the sudden interruption of the development in 1903. Despite the embryonic state of the work, the architectural quality clearly stood out. Such a distinctive trait contributed to bringing success to the place when later, it was remodelled into an exclusive and eminent dance club. All this until 2000.
The succession of new trends, architectural tastes and models became frenetic making customers more sensitive to the development of the image and the renewal, often reflecting ephemeral trends, rather than a real "style" or a content, forcing managers to make continuous and frenetic restylings of the place.
These premises have led us to the development of a project that could have returned to the origins both from an architectural and graphic point of view.
Designed in an era of artistic eclecticism, the Covo di Nord-Est opens its doors to the public during an extremely fertile period of history from an architectural point of view: from the nineteenth century, we can still notice the last vestiges of modernism while rationalism grows inexorably. The contrast between two "isms" with such a different essence has become the key and the basis on which we have decided to set the project.
Once the cleaning phase of the structure was completed we decided to reinterpret the spirit of the place, its history, its personality, and its tradition with a contemporary twist making relive the most distinctive elements. All this was characterized by a strong dynamism, leaving the place with its original flexibility which allows the club to not only be suitable for a variety of social events but also to absorb the delirious succession of fashions in a kaleidoscope of different styles.
Intervention on the existing place:
The present facade is different from the original one. It was in fact altered during some expansion works. Such works were done with extreme mastery, choosing wisely the same stones and lines.
Only two signs were hanged on its entrance until our intervention: one with a fabulous font in the 30s and another one hand made, used in the 60s.
Whilst renewing this element we have decided to recall the beautiful sign of the 30s, whose characters are now shining again on the stone facade.
Recently, in a period of expansion the Covo split in two, creating the Covino, hosted at the top floor of the structure. The Covino offers alternative events to the Covo program. A freshly styled catwalk, realized with the same internal intervention lines, accompanies customers through the square to the club’s entry stairs.
During the last years, the inside space has been used in a versatile way, using that fine border between inside and out as needed, thanks to tricks which compress or expand the space dedicated to the evenings. This is one aspect that has most influenced the design phase. Usually static elements such as VIP areas and lounges have been redesigned to be mobile and combinable to easily remodel spaces.
With a square plan of 4 meters on each side and a height of 3.4 meters, VIP zones were conceived as actual mini architectures within the space. The walkable area is placed at a height of 30cm and the facades are punctuated by 16 arches. There are 16 speakers as well, housed inside the cover structure (sound roof). The purpose of the VIP area inside the clubs is to highlight certain customers and at the same time to protect them from the crowd. From such an elevated position, they can enjoy their evenings at the night club while isolating themselves from the crowd thanks to the curtains. In order for the structure to be quickly movable or dismantled it was built by professional blacksmiths with high resistance wheels.
Left exposed and buffered with expanded metal panels, the structure went through a galvanizing and a gold powder colouring process. This finishing touch was chosen because it proves to be economically sustainable and highly weather-resistant which is fundamental considering the position overlooking the sea. The same material was used for the wine bar and the islands’ coating.
A sofa Chester made on a commission basis by a British supplier to which we sent the fabrics has been placed within each private area. The sofa material was a technical fabric used for boats, selected to withstand the marine environment in which the night club lives. The excellence of Italian production united with the British manufacturing gave birth to three unique pieces of wonderful workmanship.
The islands are thought to be a hybrid between the tables and the VIP areas. They are smaller and in a greater number than the private areas. They have the same characteristic of "protection" from the environment. Made of wood with expanded metal elements and arches, they have an hexagonal shape. One of the six sides is open to allow access to the inside, while the others are buffered with removable panels to allow the aggregation of these elements in variable-size configurations.
The bar and the DJ set are designed to be accommodated within the same structure that becomes the soul of the night.
The rounded-shape wine bar counter rises on a lower level than the DJ set and works on different position grades. The heights game is balanced with a suspended bottle rack. The DJ set is entirely coated with expanded metal, as the other elements. Depending on the light and on the distance of the observer it appears to be a monolithic object wrapped with a vibrating fabric.
Inspired by the neon signs made with hundreds of incandescent bulbs from the beginning of the XX’s century, we created a wall called the "Chicago Wall".
This wall, built with approximately 400 round bulbs, curves inside the night club almost touching the dance floor, following the trends of three different walls. The possible light games are virtually infinite since the bulbs are dimmable and cabled to be used in individual adjustable sections.