Training in red
Giancarlo Bellei - Studio Bellei
Good opportunities often come out of the blue and bring unexpected results. Entrepreneurs are well aware of this and in many cases it is a key to their success. It is also a fact of life for designers, who sometimes begin working on a building project but in the end find themselves creating something entirely different.
In a way this is what happened with the Litokol Training Center in Rubiera, province of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
The origins of the project are fairly curious. It began with the need to build a product warehouse in an area across the road from the company headquarters. However, the site’s constructible space exceeded product storage requirements, so it was decided to additionally construct an autonomous building that would integrate adequately with the project and at the same time create a coherent visual link with the company headquarters located on the opposite side of the road.
The building was to cover a total surface area of about a thousand square metres with retail and office applications and was initially intended to be rented out. For this reason the decision was taken to construct a building with a reinforced concrete structure, shop windows on the ground floor, offices on the first floor and a possible apartment on the second floor, but with an architectural form that reflected the sinuous shapes of the Litokol headquarters, arranged according to an orthogonally symmetric layout.
Once work had begun, the owners of Litokol could not resist the temptation to further personalise the building and subsequently decided to keep it for use by the company. The project had to be drastically revised, radically altering both the exterior and interior.
The way the spaces were to be used was also determined: a showroom with a corner bar on the ground floor alongside a workshop for in-situ product presentation; a meeting room for conferences and training activities and with adjacent offices on the first floor; a suite for customers on the second floor, complete with a large terrace with planters and barbecue.
Thus came into being the Litokol Training Center.
One of the distinctive elements of the building is the entirely glass south wall of the ground floor showroom, partly curved to specification to emphasise the sinuous shape of the structure, with grey frameworks that coordinate with the concrete parts left open to view and cast with the use of bare planks.
Meticulous attention has been given to details such as the inclusion of a red satin fabric between the glass sheets of the showroom entrance door.
The red theme continues on the internal floor covering, consisting of Cherry colour through-bodied porcelain tiles from Rondine’s RHS Kromatica series. Another characteristic feature is the alternating installation of rectangular tiles (30.5×45.5 cm and 15×45.5 cm) and square tiles (15×15 cm and 30.5×30.5 cm).
Red also returns on the glass steps of the staircase joining the showroom to the first-floor meeting room. A freestanding structure built from painted steel plates and suspended with braided wire cables, the stairway is completed by three-layer tempered glass steps, each layer of which has a thickness of 10 mm and the last is coloured red, while for safety purposes the upper surface has a non-slip finish.
Considerable attention has also been given to the acoustics, with wood panels and strips used to cover the ceilings and parts of the walls.
RHS, Kromatica Series
15x15; 30,5x30,5; 30,5x45,5; 15x45,5 cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0.29%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 137 mm3
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 48 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant