Big is beautiful
Giovanni Del Boca
A vision that goes beyond the limited confines of a single construction site, that pursues a concept of urban development capable of exploring new opportunities for redeveloping the built and human fabric is increasingly rare in the urban planning of our cities and even more so in the case of smaller towns.
The project for the Pasubio neighbourhood of Parma, based on a masterplan prepared by the Barcelona-based practice MBM Arquitectes, is an outstanding example that goes against the prevailing trend. Within this development, the STU 109 B architectural complex is a representative case. Not only is it the largest building, it also represents the key element of a new system of urban values, where public and private space contribute to defining the quality of a new section of the city of Parma.
The project, developed by the Milan-based architecture firm led by Giovanni del Boca, integrates different functions through a mixture of residences, offices and commercial spaces designed to create a lively and engaging residential fabric.
The main focus of the design stage was to give character and personality to every space. Suffice it to think that no less than 20 different building typologies were developed for the approximately 140 apartments making up the residential section of the complex and that each unit was designed as a custom project. To facilitate the relationship with the external space and the public areas, the envelope was envisaged as a kind of complex osmotic membrane in which key elements are the large glazed surfaces (no less than eighty percent of the overall surface), a complex system of loggias that punctuate the compact appearance of the building, and the projecting volumes that reinterpret the northern European tradition of bow windows.
By controlling these elements it was possible to define the elevations through a play of light and shade, enhanced by the choice of materials and colours of the covering and finishing components (ceramics, wood, aluminium). This effect is further emphasised by the porcelain tile surface covering (Time series from ImolaCeramica) installed in an alternation of sizes and with a variety of surface textures to obtain a varying gloss and matt pattern. Dark ceramic tiling was chosen intentionally to contrast with the transparency of the glass and the warmth of the wood, acting compositionally as a kind of ideal plane beyond which the façade finishing materials change in both in inward and outward direction. The porcelain tile cladding is part of a ventilated façade system that has made a major contribution to the energy efficiency and sustainability of the building. As a result, STU 109 B has gained class A certification in accordance with the CasaClima protocol and the Emilia Romagna regional regulations.