The new headquarters of the company Ferretti International is located in the rapidly changing industrial heart of Dalmine, a typical small manufacturing town between Milan and Bergamo in Italy. The architects’ brief was to give a radical facelift to an existing building. Their response was to build a super-elevation and completely transform the outer skin. The original building, of fairly recent construction, comprised a front, road-facing block for offices and a long industrial shed at the back. The new design left the production shed unaltered and concentrated on extending and updating the office volumes to meet the requirements and company image of the client.
The aim was to create a sculpture effect for the building. This was achieved with the use of different materials and textures to create a harmonious composition of solids and empty spaces: an expanse of opaline or milk-glass, a volume comprised of slats of wood projecting over the two intermediary storeys and a cement cladding on the upper storey.
The over-fussy architecture of the former building was streamlined by cladding part of the façade with opaline glass to give the perception of an ‘empty’ space. This outer skin also ensures less heat dispersion during the winter and better solar insulation in the summer.
The cement facing for the upper storey is the ‘solid’ part of the sculpture which, however, seems suspended in respect of the glass below. This level, housing the senior management offices, receives ample natural light from clerestories.
A pre-existing triangular-shaped balcony facing the road has been redesigned as a rectangle and provided with a ‘casing’ of 12cm-distanced wooden brise soleil slats, giving the perception of a further volume. The wooden slats continue around to cover the side of the building that houses the stairs.
The super-elevation is made of pierced aluminium strips. It blends the various elements of the composition below, and also provides a distinctive signage landmark for company visitors. A transparent glass and steel panoramic lift has been located against the outside wall.
The private area surrounding the building has been organised to allow for two openings onto the main road: a vehicle entrance leading to the store and a pedestrian entrance leading to the offices with a wooden-slat path and enclosed by a low cement wall running along a small pond to the lift entrance.