Integrated with nature
The POLINS Strategic Innovation Centre, a beautifully curved structure designed by architect Marco Acerbis with the participation of the city of Venice and the Ca’ Foscari University, was one of the first buildings in Italy to gain A+ certification in accordance with the CasaClima protocol.
For this purpose, it brought together the seemingly opposing elements of tradition and innovation. Throughout history, human beings the world over have striven to create works of architecture that establish a harmonious relationship with the surrounding environment, combining light and warmth, shadow and safety, water and materials, insulation and maintenance. Even the simplest buildings have been designed to make the best possible use of the slope of the land or the proximity to a forest in order to withstand a snowy, wet or dry climate, using locally available low-cost materials such as wood, stone and bamboo.
Gaining a knowledge of the past to design for the future should be the axiom of all good designers, entrepreneurs and public administrators. But respect for tradition must go hand in hand with innovative proposals in terms of both technology and behaviour. In POLINS the two worlds meet: the building is embedded in the landscape, exploiting the shape of the terrain to shield itself from the cold on the north side and using a natural buttress to offload the thrust of the supporting arches. At the same time it adopts the most advanced construction techniques, eco-sustainable materials and renewable energy sources to achieve the goal of sustainable, long-term coexistence with the surrounding environment.
In the words of the young architect Marco Acerbis, a student of Norman Foster, “The project reflected the desire of all the parties involved to create a building that would also serve as a small manifesto for sustainable architecture. It is the forerunner of a public project that sets itself the ambitious goal of gaining Class A+ certification, in other words an energy-efficient (class A) building that also uses environmentally sustainable construction materials (A+).”
It is a small but important project in terms of both the local context and its advanced research objectives. The Strategic Innovation Centre is part of Eastgate Park, an integrated logistic and industrial park serving North-East Italy located at Portogruaro near Venice. Officially opened on 2 October2010, the centre rapidly became a meeting place for manufacturing firms, universities and the professional world, each of which contributes its knowledge to the goal of exploiting future business opportunities such as the emerging and complex Indian market.
The architect wanted a ventilated façade that would provide protection from rain and wind and for this purpose decided to work with Marazzi, which supplied both the ventilated façade system and ceramic tile cladding. Marco Acerbis chose black coloured SistemA crystallised porcelain tile for the east-west facades, where a large template was constructed to accommodate the broad curve and ceramic elements were designed and cut to size.
The common-sense orientation, with the south façade transparent but equipped with a shading overhanging roof covered with photovoltaic panels and natural – including overhead – lighting, also contributes to sustainable energy management.