The building houses shops and small businesses. It is located in an area of Padua in north-east Italy that underwent rapid, disorderly post-war development and today presents as a jumbled series of heterogeneous units: stores, hotels, warehouses, small businesses, offices and hypermarkets interspersed by disused plots and pieces of the former countryside that somehow escaped the urban sprawl. The neighbourhood’s identity is mainly that perceived by motorists travelling down Corso Venezia on their way in and out of town.
Rigorous simplicity is the dominant motif of this new architectural composition in a deliberate attempt to create a contrasting yet unifying landmark on the variegated urban landscape. Set in the middle of its plot, with the area immediately in front dedicated to parking space, the building has three above-ground storeys and one underground floor, again for parking. Although presenting as a single, compact volume, it comprises two distinct, transparent glass blocks that face each other across a central space forming the natural fulcrum of the whole “factory”. The steel and glass central column housing common facilities like lifts and the main staircase is the trait d’union between the two blocks. The vision glass in the lower part of this central volume becomes an opaque, acid-etched glass façade as it rises to its full 22 metre heigh to become an urban landmark for the whole district.
A road runs around the whole perimeter of the building linking the entrance on Corso Venezia to the rear where a ramp leads down to the 150-space underground garage. Three separate stairwells lead to the three above-ground volumes.
The ground floor houses two shops at the front and small business storerooms at the rear. The first and second floors are occupied by small businesses. The focus is on work space quality with constant luminance ensured throughout the day, whatever the season, thanks to adjustable brise-soleil shielding on the sheer glass curtain wall. The same attention to user comfort has also dictated the ventilation system which allows for two outward opening glass panels in every façade module on each floor.