Arval’s headquarters are located near the A1 motorway, in Scandicci, a municipality in the outskirts of Florence. The building is an energy-sufficient structure with a layout designed to recall a lightning bolt, that is, something that produces energy.
This building, designed by Pierattelli Architetture, combines rows of horizontal windows with cladding of white panels. The use of windows breaks the linearity of the façades and, at times, these even jut out before returning to the line of the elevation to continue even around the corners, forming long glazed bands. The interior receives plenty of natural light, helping to increase work comfort both in the offices and open space areas.
Externally, two giant photovoltaic “sails” dominate the building, providing both shade and energy. These key structures were designed and built in conjunction with Promo.
The sails are 760 sq m and 495 sq m, with a trapezoidal design that rests, on the shorter side, on supporting concrete portals that stand in open spaces just away from the building. The longer side - the upper section - sits atop a series of metallic pilasters behind the external wall of the building. The result is a light, elegant and dynamic yet imposing design that clearly recalls a wind-filled sail. This deliberate design choice was made possible through careful analysis conducted by Promo.
The load-bearing metallic structure for each sail consists of a complex system of ribs that supports a longitudinal framework on which the photovoltaic panels are placed, along with the related cables. This structure also collects and channels the rainwater so it runs down the outer side of the ribbed structure.
The photovoltaic panels on the sails work in combination with those on the building roof. The choice of photovoltaic power was one piece in the energy efficiency jigsaw - it is a class A building - along with the geothermal heating and cooling system, the heat insulation provided by the building envelope and the high performance windows and doors.
The photovoltaic lightning bolt that adorns the entrance was designed by the Pierattelli architecture practice and created by Promo for Arval as part of a Milan design week in 2011. It has subsequently become the icon for the entire building.