The Sky’s The Limit

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Laurence Genevet   Contributor

Alexandre Giraldi (above) is the Monegasque architect behind the Tour Odeon where the world’s most expensive penthouse includes a water slide that goes from the dance floor directly down into the infinity pool.

Monaco's busiest architect Alexandre Giraldi sees building boom rising higher and higher.

Monaco may be the world’s second smallest country but property developments continue to boom with buildings rising higher and higher. For Alexandre Giraldi this is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

The Monegasque architect was part of the “collective vision” of developer Groupe Marzocco and interior designer Alberto Pinto behind
Monaco’s tallest building project, the 49-storey Odeon Tower, home to the world’s most expensive penthouse at a cool $335 million, which was completed in April 2015.

Giraldi is also collaborating with Vinci Construction Monaco for “26, Carré d’Or”, which Groupe Segonde Immobilier hopes will be the “ultimate address” in the Principality. The 19-storey building at 26 avenue de la Costa will feature a 4-floor penthouse complete with a 9 x 6 meter pool and is expected to be delivered in 2019.

For Giraldi, the level of luxury demanded by future buyers lies in the finishes, which are provided by skilled craftsmen but produced at industrial speeds and quantities.

“It’s a real convergence of opposites,” he says. “Additionally, appropriating space continues to evolve with increasingly larger sizes demanded—a duplex or triplex—which requires specialized services. For example, 15-storey buildings can be divided into several hôtels particuliers with private spas.”

Monaco’s unique topography is one of its greatest constraints, regardless the size of the plots. Given the scarcity of land available, almost 100% of the projects in the Principality use 100% of the land. However, the proximity of surrounding buildings results in more complex retaining works than you’d find elsewhere.

“We are used to extremely challenging construction sites,” he says. “It’s Monaco’s trademark due to its small size.”

Giraldi provides two examples. Earthworks for Testimonio II—the eastside’s major development project to be delivered in 2022, which will include 150 housing units in a 25-storey tower, 49 private apartments, 1,100 car-parking spaces, a 50-place kindergarten, and the International School of Monaco with
a 700-student capacity—are carried out on fourteen levels of infrastructure. This means that 250,000 square meters will have
to be excavated and then there will be a two-year retaining work phase. Another example: the Odeon Tower is referred to as a “very large excavation”, with 150,000 square meters of earthworks.

Monaco uses techniques specific to engineering structures or civil engineering for housing construction. “The Principality is like a test field, from where world leaders specializing in retaining work follow us with interest or are even partly involved in our projects.

“How amazing is that?”

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Laurence Genevet   Contributor