Saverio Lombardi Vallauri
The project stands on the site freed up by the demolition of the industrial building known as « Ansaldo 20 ». Just two buildings were preserved from the existing complex: one on the northern edge of the site, referred to in the area’s redevelopment plans as the « Energy House » and used for the new complex’s plant systems; and the other called the « Torre di filatura » (« Drawing tower ») which was used for research on optical cables and fibres and stands as a landmark and symbol of the area’s industrial past.
Functionally, the entire complex consists of four buildings with a modular metallic framework structure, a pitched roof and prefabricated concrete floors designed for use as offices, services and related activities. These alternate with two « Greenhouses », full-height glazed spaces connecting the various buildings and serving for accessibility in general where hydroponic vegetation interspersed with pools of water helps regulate the microclimate.
Right from the outset, the project focused on care for the environment, explained architect Maurizio Varratta. « The existing building was entirely demolished and all its constituent materials recycled. As the new building stands on a previously developed plot, it does not consume virgin land and in fact reduces the impact of the site. It uses a portion of the old foundations, while the absence of underground sections means that new excavations are not required. The construction materials were mostly recycled and are all recyclable. »
Photovoltaic panels installed on the south-facing roof pitches and on the glazed roofs covering the parking spaces meet virtually the entire energy needs of the building.
The complex as a whole is a kind of miniature city that is powered by and in turn radiates new energy. Everything is designed to generate a sense of harmony between man and environment – from the deciduous trees which follow the rhythms of the seasons to the choice of glass and external sun screening systems (brise-soleil outside and curtains inside), which guarantee excellent levels of natural lighting throughout more than 75% of the space. « The project guarantees a good quality of life for the occupants in accordance with the highest international standards, » explained Maurizio Varratta.
A total surface area of around 16,000 square metres was covered with ceramic floor and wall tiles. To meet the needs of durability, mechanical strength and cleanliness, the architects chose 60×60 cm size porcelain tiles for the office block floors, both raised and installed directly over the slabs. To achieve a finish that would evoke the warmth and aesthetics of fabric, they opted for a porcelain tile collection by MARAZZI in a dark grey colour. Used throughout the entire building, it creates a powerful sense of continuity.