The new headquarters of TiFS Ingegneria, in the industrial district of Padua in north east Italy, stands out for its highly distinctive architectural and structural features. Of particular note is the striking curved profile. The building is divided into three above-ground storeys. The basic structure is steel and concrete. The curved roof is supported by six 50x30 curved steel girders hinged to the ground and to supporting pillars. All other vertical and horizontal structures are in concrete while the external cladding is in titanium zinc. The north and south facades are completely glazed.
Access to the building is via a horizontal cylindrical shaped construction lying perpendicular to the curved, east façade. The full-volume hall is the focal point for the vertical and horizontal distribution system that comprises a sweeping staircase with landings on each floor. The hall gives on to a filter area made up of closed environments (offices and meeting rooms) that separate the public entrance from the open-plan work area.
The Client was anxious to include innovative technology that would integrate skin, structure and technical plant and ensure constant comfort-zone temperatures and sustainable energy use. The concrete structure is an integral part of the radiant climatisation system. Not only does it contain the radiant panels embedded in floors and ceilings but also acts as a heat accumulator. This “natural” climatisation system, is known as concrete core activation. The heating and cooling plant consists of standard, prefabricated components that are easy to install and use.
Water in underfloor polyethylene pipes is cooled or heated as it passes through 16 geothermal pipes sunk 100 m below ground that provide constant year-round temperatures of 17°-18°C. In the summer, the circulating water will be 16°-20°C and so will cool the environment. In the winter, the water in the circuit will be heated to 22°-28°C by a reversible heat pump. In this way the concrete core activation system makes optimal and economical use of the “natural” energy available in manmade and natural structures that maintain practically constant temperatures whatever the season. An air-exchange ventilation plant ensures good air quality.
Daylighting is provided to as many inner working areas as possible thanks to the glazed north and south façades. A special glazing is also key to ensuring all-round environmental comfort. The south-facing façade is a double skin system designed to avoid excessive heat loads. A system of adjustable louvers placed between the inner and outer skins protects the building’s occupants from direct sunlight. Any heat build-up in the airspace is removed by natural convection.
Ventilation is via ample openings on the ground floor and at the intersection between roof and façade, where the sun-shading louvers are more widely spaced in order not to hamper air floor even when the louvers are closed. The airspace of approximately 70 cm between the inner and outer skins has a metal grid maintenance walkway.
The north-facing façade overlooking a busy main road is in special acoustical insulating, laminated double glazing.