Project Description

Selected work for the XII International Biennial of Architecture in Buenos Aires – 2009


The project involved the radical renovation of the former headquarters of the state telephone company (SIP), built in the outskirts of Mestre in the early Seventies, now destined to host the headquarters for the North-East of Italy of “Manutencoop”, a multi-utility company.

The subject is initially appeared as one of the most simple: to build a headquarters in a building that already housed a similar activity, while any volume extension was not allowed due to planning reasons.

The Client, in line with its entrepreneurial spirit, had provided some principles of general policy, which had to be followed for the preparation of the project: a modern architectural planning that has adequate environmental comfort for staff and guests of the building, a reduced environmental impact in terms of “architecture” and “consumption” in time, an ease and convenience in maintenance and management of the architectural and plant “machine”: in other words, using a term in common use, a sustainable building.

Tackle the project for the “Manutencoop” headquarters in Mestre has meant to face the problem of reuse of “young” buildings, that is buildings which have been made in the last half century. A design theme increasingly present in urban environments, in relation to the need to compensate the lack of new building areas on the territory against the availability of existing buildings which are already been abandoned and which offer the opportunity to change quickly their use and their appearance to host new businesses.

The existing building, having previously housed offices, facilitated the interior design, providing a good basis to the reorganization of the spaces.

The main challenge was rather to solve the exterior of the building, with the restriction given by the existing technical volume, which could not be changed and that had to be enhanced somehow. Eventually the solution found has been to create a different image of the building through the design of a new “skin”, entrusting the facing materials the task to interpret and communicate the sense of this transformation. For this reason a coating “technology” in

zinc-titanium laminate, laid in horizontal plates, was chosen in alternation with some parts that remain white plastered.

This choice has resulted in a geometric effect of great impact, reproducing a fluid succession of horizontal elements interrupted only by the ribbon windows and the plastered walls – creating graphic games of rationalist inspiration.

Through the bending of an external wall, the white color enters the entrance area and characterizes the atrium emphasizing the continuity between exterior and interior. The technical compartment on the roof, which houses the plants, is included in the main facade, emphasizing

the ground floor entrance and introducing a strong threedimensional component. A system of natural light control with adjustable sunscreens, coated with zinc-titanium, was introduced to

avoid the direct sunlight, the glares and the reflections, and for energetical reasons due to overheating of the rooms. A geothermal probe system with the aid of a heat exchanger generates the heating and the cooling, saving a significant amount of energy.

This work has been selected to participate in the “XII International Biennial of Architecture in Buenos Aires: Veneto40 Young architects to the test” – in October 2009.