A dialogue between matter and transparency
Maria Giulia Zunino
(Spazimultipli Studio Associato)
Profili di Luce
The first player in this project is Enterprise, a company that in the space of just over ten years has established a strong position in the Finance & Banking sectors through continuous research and investment in products and services for the organisation and automation of banks.
The other is Spazimultipli, a young Rome-based architectural practice headquartered in Testaccio – the twentieth-century working-class neighbourhood built on the site of the ancient port on the river Tiber – which has already built a reputation for its incisive and effective proposals.
The project itself centres on an existing building without any special aesthetic qualities but with two aspects of unquestionable merit: the fact that it can easily be reached by public transport from the centre of Rome (it is situated just 1 km from the EUR-Magliana underground rail station) while lying outside the urban chaos; and above all its location on a 3,000 square metre site that slopes down towards the Tiber via a sequence of green terraces.
These advantages have been fully exploited in a project that clearly defines « space, form and material, the fundamental aspects of any work of architecture because they contextualise it, define its character and relate it to users », as architects Valentina Pandolfi, Cristina Parisi and Antonio Pizzola, founders of Spazimultipli Studio Associato, explain in their programme. « The challenge we face is to create high-quality products free from prejudice, combining time-honoured and innovative materials and traditional and advanced technologies. Our language is based on superimpositions and contrasts…, » the architects continue. Their approach is clearly demonstrated in this project where the lightness of the interior stands in marked contrast to the material qualities of the exterior.
From the street the new Enterprise headquarters building acquires greater visibility and importance due to the choice of emphasising the materials of the existing facades. The tuff and travertine used on the facades are reproduced in the new monumental stairway, a strong presence within the landscape. As the building entrance has been shifted to the side of the building, the stairway rising spectacularly up the hillside enhances the natural environment, and is connected to the new underground garages by a lift. It also serves as a pleasant place where employees can meet and relax outdoors.
The interior of the building is entirely different, creating equally distinctive working and reception spaces but in a more contemporary style that is more suited to the quality of life of the people working here.
The contemporary and meaningful use of graphic design was chosen in this project not just for its intrinsic function as a communication tool but also as an essential element for the quality of the working space. Aesthetically enhanced by a sanding process, the geometric motifs featuring on the glass partitions ensure a minimum of workplace privacy but without significantly diminishing or interrupting the flow of natural light.
Because it is natural light, together with transparency, that is the real protagonist of the interior spaces. It penetrates deep inside the building via the new central stairwell and lift shaft, which are delimited vertically by glass walls and horizontally by the glass inserts in the stairwell floor. Under the control of sensors, it blends with artificial illumination to back-light the large Barrisol stretch ceiling surfaces that enhance the architecture of the space. It diffuses into the offices, where the glass partitions with screen-printed geometric designs lighten the wall structure and create continual plays of perspective. And it reflects on the white walls and Marquinia black floors consisting of porcelain tile from Ceramica Fioranese’s Nu_Marble collection. The choice of a hi-tech material that combines the aesthetic appeal and nobility of marble with the technical characteristics of porcelain, in an essential black colour and a single large size (45×90 cm) to reduce the number of joints, has enabled the designers to achieve a seamless surface that enhances the almost rarefied overall impression.