Tributes flood in for young Italian architects

The boss of Marco Gottardi, one of the Italian architects believed to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire, has paid tribute to the “massive contribution” he made in his short time at the practice.

The 27-year-old’s death has left a huge void in their personal and professional lives, said Alessandro Penna, a director at Anglo-Italian practice CIAO (Creative Ideas & Architecture Office).

Mr Gottardi had only worked for CIAO for a matter of weeks after arriving in London last year to pursue his dreams.

He moved into a flat at the top of the Ladbroke Grove tower with his fiancée, Gloria Trevisan, who made a series of heartbreaking phone calls home as the fire took hold. Nothing has been heard of them since and a lawyer for the family said there was “no hope” of finding the couple alive.

Mr Gottardi and Ms Trevisan, both specialists in conservation architecture, graduated last autumn from the IUAV University of Venice masters programme, each with the highest possible marks.

Mr Gottardi described architecture as his passion, having originally trained as a surveyor. He was awarded honours for his thesis which looked at the restoration and conversion of a 1936 seaside development in Venice’s Lido.

He planned to stay in London to gain as much experience as possible because the quality and quantity of projects here is not comparable to any other place in Europe, Mr Penna told BD.

“The loss of Marco will leave a huge void in our personal and professional lives,” added Mr Penna, who called him in for an interview after being impressed by his portfolio.

“Our practice is growing thanks to the contribution of talented people like Marco and with each one of them we have very strong personal bonds. With Marco this bond was even stronger, both for our common origin and the fact he was going through the same path we took a few years ago when moving to London.

“Since his first day, Marco’s contribution to the firm has been massive both socially and professionally, especially for his knowledge on the conservation of historical buildings and his keen eye for details.

“He was very talented and keen to learn every aspect of the profession. In Italy he was already a qualified architect but, despite the fact he could register with the Arb, he preferred to wait to gain more experience in the UK. This may give you an idea of how professional he was.”

While at CIAO he worked on the refurbishment and roof extension of a 20th-century building of townscape merit in Soho’s conservation area and on a micro-flat in Knightsbridge.

Ms Trevisan, 26, had just started work at Peregrine Bryant Architecture & Building Conservation where she had already been assigned to the conversion of a grade I-listed Soane stable block at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

Mr Bryant, who paid tribute to her in BD last week, said her tutor in Venice had since described her as the best student she had had in many years. 

Before starting at Bryants, Ms Trevisan worked at Place Design & Planning in south-west London.

The practice told BD: “Gloria worked in our office for seven weeks in which time she quietly and diligently produced beautiful work.

“She was a gentle sort with a great smile. The horrific event in the tower, and the presumed death of Gloria and Marco is a tragic loss for their family and friends.

“Some of Gloria’s designs sit on her desk as a potent reminder to us all. She worked on a mixed-use rural scheme, producing engaging hand-drawn sketches as well as meticulously designed 3D models.

“We offer our deepest sympathies and wish there was some way we could help in such difficult times.”