An old industrial complex now houses new workspaces designed to ensure wellbeing and meet specific needs in terms of functions, materials and energy-saving
Some projects succeed in taking on board many of the modern era’s different demands: the need to conserve precious land in our densely inhabited urban areas; intelligent participation in the sensitive but necessary dialogue between old and new; and correct use of resources in terms of both energy and materials, especially when closely linked with the wellbeing levels of residential or working interiors.
As always, reference to a real case will help to illustrate the concept. We are talking about the new Prysmian headquartersinMilan, opened at the end of 2016, designed by Maurizio Varratta,which is a refurbishment of an old industrial building already modified by a series of ineffective, unsatisfactory conversions in the past.
In 2011 the owners, with the architect’s advice, finally drew up a list of the real needs for use of the spaces which were to undergo functional and architectural restoration,and the transformation project got under way.
Three solid main blocks, interspersed with a series of conservatory-like sections intended to house indoor garden areas, zones for socialisation and vertical and horizontal connection systems, all respect the landmark status of a large existing masonry structure of historic importance, with a major role in the local landscape: the old spinning tower, which now carries the company logo and houses the lecture theatre and meeting rooms.
The project as built achieves the intended high quality in terms of structure, architecture and plants thanks to the careful use of resources and intelligent exploitation of the various factors involved: the need to conserve some existing features of value, the desire to make the best use of environmental factors such as the positioning of the buildings, and, last but not least, the carefully designed relationship between the various materials used for the finishing of the horizontal and vertical surfaces.
Inside the glazed conservatory areas, the rectified stoneware tiles from a Ragno “custom”fabric-effect collection, with an unusual, softly “woven” pattern, provide a patterned frame in a very fashionable anthracite grey for the planted areas or the zones with parquet flooring.
This design choice clearly defines pathways and areas intended for lingering, with the added benefit of the attractive effects created on the tiles’ surface patterning by the natural light entering through the large glazed areas in the roof.
Inside the offices and the other communal areas, the anthracite grey floor in 60 x 60 size creates an effective, tasteful colour contrast with the white chosen for the various furnishings. Further balancing is provided by the grey colour of the wall tiles, this time in the 30 x 60 size.
The design strategy illustrates a successful approach to increasing wellbeing in indoor areas. Let’s take a look at some images of the project.
Ph Saverio Lombardi Vallauri