The project to build the new Max Mara headquarters at Mancasale near Reggio Emilia, Italy was awarded by international competition in 1994. The 30 hectare site in the typical agricultural landscape of the flat Po Valley of northern Italy is bordered to the south by two main communication axes: the A1 motorway and parallel high speed train link, still under construction.
The new headquarters lies between the Mancasale industrial park to the east and open countryside to the north and west, where the regular field layout still clearly reflects ancient Roman property divisions. The factory’s ground plan recalls this regular grid with tree-lined avenues and water canals extending into the surrounding country. The buildings too hark back to the long low farm houses typical of the area. They form an architectural cluster, a compact urban nucleus or neighbourhood whose concrete volumes fit easily into the green landscape. Founded in 1951, Max Mara is an important, multi-brand fashion group.
The new headquarters has a built surface area of 45,000sqm divided into three parts for as many functions: a group of buildings around a central court housing offices, research and design studios of the company brands (Max Mara, Max Mara Fashion Group, Marella and Maxima); a showroom building serving all the companies; and a warehouse with separate storage for raw materials and finished goods. Auxiliary constructions contain technical plant and equipment and two porters’ lodges.
There are four external car parks including one outside the perimeter fence for visitors, serving a total of 600 vehicles. A basement garage linking the office buildings at basement level holds 230 cars.
The offices/studios are housed in three courtyard blocks with the westernmost two linked at first floor by a glazed walkway. The buildings are constructed with a fair face in situ reinforced concrete frame that is expressed internally.
Most façades have aluminium profile frames supporting an orderly series of clear glazing and solid panels. The horizontal design is emphasised by a regular series of terracotta panels with horizontal banding. The south elevation is further characterised by a continuous line of horizontal aluminium brise-soleil at roof level that create a shaded portico along the side of the building.
The showroom building is situated in the exact centre of the complex. A single building houses eleven showrooms grouped in three blocks divided by two reception areas. The showrooms are top lit by north-facing rooflights. Cloakrooms, wcs and plantrooms are located below ground, linked via a tunnel to the main services building. The shed roof, its non-glazed sections clad in Rheinzink, rests on precast reinforced concrete beams, each supported by two pillars. The north elevation is finished like the office building: alternating glazed sections hung on an aluminium frame and matching terracotta panels between columns. Transparency is the key feature of the gallery on the south side of the showroom building.
The façade is entirely glazed, supported by an aluminium mullion and transom frame, with a glass canopy, protected by sun-shading fixed to the main frame via a steel substructure. The east and west façades, by contrast, are in fair-face reinforced concrete.
To the north-east lies the building accommodating the warehouses and staff canteen. North and south façades are in precast reinforced concrete panels; the east and west façades of the building are clad in natural finish Rheinzink panels.
Situated on the upper floor and served by outside metal stairs running along the south elevation, the canteen has a fully glazed façade on a painted aluminium frame. Three internal lifts complete vertical communication to the canteen and private dining rooms.
The warehouse is divided by two firewalls into three separate bays: one for “raw materials” and quality control, two for finished product containing four levels of fully automated racking.
The raw materials warehouse has a semi-automatic vertical storage system on metal shelves for fabrics and garment accessories. The building also contains a three level sales area with metal decks.
|< Prev||Next >|