The new Bologna headquarters of Consorzio Cooperative Costruzioni lies parallel to the main road, via Emilia, in an outlying industrial district. The main building, a 10-storey parallelepiped designed by bolognese firm Open Project, is set back from the busy thoroughfare and separated from it by three low, square constructions that serve as buffers to the outside world and accommodate the entrance and other multi-purpose spaces. The entrance and porter’s lodge, however, are marked out by a glazed, triple-height parallelepiped volume. “Water walls” between these low, one-storey fore-buildings reflect the surrounding architecture, enhancing the effect of overall transparency.
The east-west orientation of the main building prompted the use of differentiated façades. The north elevation, facing the entrance, is a structural glass Schüco curtain wall that reveals interior spatial and functional distribution. The curtain walls of the other façades have an outer envelope of large, gloss-finish, elongated Rheinzink panels.
The irregular pattern of different size windows and cladding slabs lend the three façades a horizontal dynamic that mirrors the interior layout. Recessed windows on the titanium-zinc clad surfaces give a sense of depth that varies with the changing light while the corner windows on the east and west façades lend a degree of insubstantiality to the whole. The random open or closed positions of the roller blinds on the glazed north façade produce a varying pattern of solids and voids. At night, the same effect is produced by the random illumination inside the building.
The ground plan is based on a standard floor plan: a central corridor giving access to the offices, combined with vertical distribution and bathroom facilities grouped in two clusters on the south wall. The architecture is characterised by its striking structural features: a long series of oblique pillars, creating an uninterrupted line from ground to roof, support the cantilever on the west side. The titanium-zinc slabs cladding the oblique stilts at ground floor and first-floor soffit accentuate the technological character of the building. The oblique pillar stands out against the modular grey structure drawing the eye to the imposing cantilevered volume.