A new home for a company with over a hundred years of history
Fernando Guerra | FG+SG fotografia de arquitectura
Artecna srl, Studio Iotti + Paravani Architetti
Incorporated in Turin on the 31st December 1828 under the name “Società Reale di Assicurazioni Generale e Mutua Contro gli Incendi” (Royal Company for General Insurance and Security against Fire), Reale Mutua, as it is better known today, has strong roots in Piedmont’s capital city despite its international dimensions.
Proof of Reale’s commitment to Turin comes in the form of spacious new offices recently inaugurated a short way from the group’s headquarters. The new building derives from the demolition and reconstruction of the old IREN complex, once home to the generators that powered the city’s electric trams. It is located in the centre of the old city, where the rational, square street plan is still based on that of the ancient Romans for the town of Julia Augusta Taurinorum.
The overall design is by Artecna, who also directed the work, and is distinguished by an envelope that enters into an intense dialogue with the surrounding buildings. The façade, designed by the studio of Iotti + Paravani, who won the competition launched by the client, gives the complex an appearance that is clearly contemporary while simultaneously reminiscent of its architectural surroundings, which date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The new offices were built to concentrate company functions located in other towns in a single, brand new centre, with work areas arranged to cater for technological change in the company’s operations. They provide space for a staff of around 800. The building also contains a conference room capable of holding 200 people and boasts parking facilities for 150 cars.
Designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the building integrates design solutions that ensure maximum energy efficiency along with architectural quality, technical functionality and environmental comfort. To guarantee the highest levels of employee wellbeing in all areas, from acoustics to temperature and lighting, the interior is laid out to create comfortable and ergonomic work spaces plus numerous relaxation areas, including the sixth floor with its splendid view over the city.
The colours, proportions, materials and lines of the envelope ensure that the building blends easily into the urban context and also create a warm, welcoming atmosphere on the inside. Though severe and rigorous at first glance, the exterior wall covering is luminous in tone and bright by design and generates a sense of uneven movement between the floors. The frontages of the various floors are constructed in “cellular façades” that alternate opaque and transparent sections in an innovative system formed by preassembled blocks made of lightweight composite panels covered in large ceramic tiles. The transparent openings are provided by selective, low emission glass with acoustic PVB, the specifications of which vary depending on the orientation of the façade. The opaque sections, covered in Kerlite tiles from Cotto d’Este, serve to create the desired massive effect. Their tone matches that of the older buildings nearby and perfect corners are ensured by through-body colouring.
The 100×300 cm, 5.5 mm thick custom made Kerlite tiles are the latest development in the manufacturer’s Bergen series and ensure excellent mechanical strength, light weight, functionality and quick, accurate installation.
Contrast to the outer façades is provided by open and transparent walls around an inner courtyard that serves as the regenerating, green heart of the complex.