Sisma's new offices and plant
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Sisma's new offices and plant

ViTre Studio – Elisa Dalla Vecchia

Sisma's new offices and plant
By Francesco Pagliari -

The client was adamant the project should mirror the company's core business, that is, research and the production of precision cutting machinery for specialized applications (e.g. jewellery, dental labs). Sisma's cutting-edge technology would ideally manifest itself in the architecture, defining clear, precise traits for the structures.
The different sections blend together nicely, although the functions remain distinct. The complex consists of orderly volumes, with materials used to identify components and, ultimately, give the entire building its own distinctive appearance. The architectural language for the new headquarters could be termed decisive yet pondered. Modern materials are used and the design clearly interacts with the surrounding landscape, enhancing the interior/exterior dynamic and drawing on the perspectives that extend into the distance.
The separation of production areas from management and administrative ones necessitates an implicit assessment of working and social spaces to determine the differing needs and potential solutions, materials and lighting options. The production area is clad with silver-grey corrugated metal sheets, while horizontal ribbon windows provide a straightforward message of simple solutions combined with good architecture. The executive section obviously houses offices and meeting rooms, so a combination of glazing and cladding was used to create a sense of intrinsic beauty. The architecture here goes well beyond the mere industrial. The panels used to clad the facade are made of bright yellow glass and, given the differences in texture, form a dynamic relation with the horizontal lines of the windows. The clearly visible entrance extends out of the facade and glazing is used as much as possible. This glass volume also has a gently sloping roof that brings a touch of variation to the overall building silhouette.
The complex is, as indicated, a composition of parts and, parallel to the glazed entrance on the eastern side of the main facade, rises a volume with plastered side walls and a front section of variously-sized glass panes. The use of coloured window fittings enhances the overall texture. The roof is oblique, adding one of the many small variations in size and identity that are deliberately used. The glazed sections behind which stand the offices and meeting rooms are also marked by the use of a metallic weave of sunscreens placed slightly in front of the windows, almost framing them. Here, the uprights are planted solidly into the ground, but then rise at a slight angle, once again emphasising the use of pure technological shapes.
The entrance lobby is key to the whole complex, functioning rather like a crossroads. This double height volume provides 'complex' natural light that comes in from three different sides and almost acquires a zenithal, airy feeling. It can be dimmed using the roller curtains on the inside. Such light is different from the natural light in the offices, which tends to change over a day. This constant natural light throughout the day veils the lobby in a sense of suspension as though time had stopped. This is a place for welcoming and waiting. It is also a crossroads leading to the offices, the showroom, the production floor and the terrace from which stunning views of the beautiful surrounding landscape can be enjoyed.
Density and abstraction are at the heart of this design: the changing nature of natural light; colours - the sharp contrast between yellow and grey for the facades; the indoor areas with light colours and opaline light; and the addition of coloured elements in the lobby. Finally, the building engages with the mountainous landscape and the architecture blends in with the rows of plants and trees that surround the building, as though recreating a natural space.
Francesco Pagliari

Location: Piovene Rocchette, Vicenza
Client: Sisma
Completion: 2012
Gross Floor Area: 3.460 m2
Cost of Construction: 4.298.000 Euros
Architects: ViTre Studio – Elisa Dalla Vecchia
Works Management: ViTre Studio - Lorenzo Dalla Vecchia e Massimo Dalla Vecchia
Elecrtical systems: ViTre Studio - Matteo Munari
Hydrothermal Systems: ViTre Studio - Ivan Mattarolo e Giovanni Beda
Acoustic: ViTre Studio - Silvia Dall’Igna
Contractor: Cosfara

Brise-soleil: Nicolli
Furnitures: Estel, Ares Line

Window and Door Frames: Schüco
Flooring: GranitiFiandre

Photography: © Marco Zorzanello

Elisa Dalla Vecchia
Born in Vicenza in 1980, Elisa Dalla Vecchia graduated in architecture from the IUAV. For several years after graduation, she conducted research in the field of restoration and urban planning in historically and naturally complex areas. During this period, she also co-curated an exhibition dedicated to the restoration of a historic medieval fortress in the Italian town of Noale. In 2008, she exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale as part of a German-Italian working group with the Mæve installation.
As a freelancer, she is involved in restoration and has planned the reclamation of late Renaissance and seventeenth-century factories, and the renovation and redevelopment of modern buildings. She is also involved in the public sector and has designed numerous schools. In April 2008, together with a team if twelve architects and engineers, she established the engineering firm ViTre Studio Ltd. Here she is involved in architectural design, including the design and construction of the new SISMA headquarters.

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