Redeveloping the Le Officine complex in Savona
5+1 AA Agenzia di Architettura
Alfonso Femia, Gianluca Peluffo
The inhabitants of Savona still have fond memories of Metalmetron, one of the country’s largest textile machinery factories which was located in the Legino neighbourhood and closed down in 1992. The debate on the various proposals for reusing the large site where the factory stood continued at great length, and for more than fifteen years the area was an open wound in the fabric of the city. In the end, the project promoted by Newco Savona Spa and developed by Studio 5+1 AA, the architecture firm of Alfonso Femia and Giancarlo Peluffo, was chosen. The aim of the project was to redevelop an abandoned industrial site (around 70,000 square metres including a 45,000 square metre covered area) while taking account of the problems posed by the neighbourhood behind it and the major changes to the road layout in front, where Ferrovie dello Stato (Italian State Railways) had sold the Parco Doria area to the city council. The existing volumes of the former Metalmetron complex were difficult to integrate into the new urban plan and were all demolished. An exception was made for the long curved building extending along Via Stalingrado which housed the canteen and the changing rooms and which still today are associated with Metalmetron in the popular memory. Following a meticulous functional restoration project, the building also underwent an aesthetic facelift that involved cladding it externally with glazed porcelain modules from Casalgrande Padana’s Diamante Boa Ghiaccio collection. Thanks to the special diamond-inspired three-dimensional surface of these modules, the façade produces reflections and contrasts that shift with the changing light of day. As envisaged in the project, the building was integrated structurally and connected with the new Le Officine complex built behind it, healing the old wound in the urban fabric and revitalising an important part of the city. In practice the new multifunctional centre offers a variety of functionally autonomous mixed-use buildings: five medium-sized commercial structures alongside 10,000 square metres of space for small businesses and services, as well as 3,400 square metres of office space and a 102-room hotel (4,000 square metres) with a vertical tower structure. The buildings were constructed using a system of solid vertical prefabricated concrete panels alternating with the openings. The compositional simplicity of the volumes gave the designers the idea of using colour as a distinguishing element. The panels were coated externally with resin in an alternation of three shade of green and three shades of blue, while dark purple was used to accentuate the horizontality of the inter-storey and roof panels. The approximately 1,500 car parking spaces distributed throughout the site (at ground level in the entrance forecourt or at various heights on the roof levels) and colour are the unifying elements not just of the complex itself but also of the newly created public square that contributes to the redevelopment of Piazzale Moroni.