LE OFFICINE: AREA EX METALMETRON
The project is based on a very specific functional requirement: the need to set together a certain number of average-size sales facilities, which are almost totally unconnected to each other, also providing a truly not able range of facilities (mainly parking) all connected, as far as possible, to each individual facility.
There are two main design difficulties involved:
1. urbanity and the kind of interaction with the city associated with this kind of project;
2. interaction with the existing builtscape as it appears in the collective psyche of the local community (both negatively in terms of the way it has been abandoned and positively as regards employment and the building quality of the road front).
These urban-related and design aspects become even more problematic when they come up against the kind of very definite, relatively inflexible and almost binding functional requirements typical of manufacturing-commercial projects: size, forms, structural features, access, town-planning and safety regulations, requirements in terms of visibility, low construction costs.
These binding conditions resulted in the tricky decision being taken toknock down the former Metalmetron complex while, however, deciding to keep - by making a special effort in terms of design and costs - the curve-shaped building holding the canteen and locker rooms, incorporating some of the craftactivities, and linking up to the complex's hotel-parking system.
This allowed us to salvage and revamp the old layout connecting the long high-speed bend in Via Stalingrado to the equally long and curved facade of the old canteen, which can boast it sowndignified compositional layout.
From a design view point, it was decided to combine the original curved building, parking facilities behind it and hotel into one single architectural-stylistic construction envisagedas a tower building.
In this way, the creation of a large architectural-infrastructural feature provides a solution to the issue of interaction with the road front and hence the urbanity of the proposed complex and the need to hold on to the old building's physical image in the collective psyche of the local community.
The familiar issues of visibility, commercial communication, and the stylistic embodiment of tourist facilities along the road, have, in our opinion, been handled by making them fit in with the area's and cities industrial and manufacturing tradition, giving the project a distinctive, cutting-edge and instantly recognisable appearance.
Over-sizing, taken as a large-scale territorial building-infrastructure, actually incorporating, however, links on an urban and people-friendly scale, istackled and, webelieve, resolved by combining two architectural objects normally of a quite contrasting scale, function and appearance by means of their cladding, expressiveness and interaction between the parking facilities and hotel.
Its image has something to do with the issue of playful, almost childish camouflaging, exploiting the structural features of an average cost construction: all the buildings are constructedusing a system of verticalreinforced concrete prefabricated panels alternated with a pattern of apertures, which may take the form of either glass partitions, bedroom windows or office windows.
The simplicity of this construction system led us to imagine that colour might be able to characterise the overall structure and make it seem less obsessive and imposing.
We have combined two distinctive aspect sofmodern-dayarchitecture: the compositional simplicity of structures taken as simple-shaped objects set along side each other or slotted together, and the rare faction of their structural design based on a type of facade that works almost by means of pixels, taking the construction method as a means of expression. For this reason the panels are painted (on-site and with resin, in order to enhance the quality of the finish) in three shades of green and three shades of blue/sky-blue, injected with horizontality by the panels marking the different floorlevels and roof over the commercial systempainted a dark-violet colour.
Most of the structures are separated at the height of Piazzale Moroni and, hence, higherth an the access road by an authentic Public Square for hosting entertainment, events and public activities above groundlevel. This helps create continuity with the neighbourhood at the rear of the project, also opening it up towards the sea: alongside the play fulmatter of colour, thisis the most distinctive feature of the overall project, a way of completing-enhancing a densely populated neighbourhood of low architectural and environmental quality.
image courtesy of 5+1AA
copyright Sergio Grazia