A Green Machine: Architecture as Ecosystem
With the regeneration project by Alessandro Bucci Architetti, Rimini’s former trade show grounds is today part of a broader natural ecosystem made up of the park surrounding the neighboring Lake Mariotti and, on a larger scale, the “Raggio Verde” connecting the site with the old town and onward to the sea. The project comprises a multifunctional complex that includes commercial, executive and residential use linked by open collective spaces.
By creating a new urban landscape, the project re-activates an area that until recently had lain unused. The former massing on the site was reduced, thereby allowing physical continuity with key neighboring sites - Palacongressi, Acquarena and other commercial areas - and improving connections to the road system. The regeneration of this urban area centered, however, on improving the quality of approximately 11,000 sq. m of existing public space, turning it into the green feature that organizes, separates, frames, conceals, insulates and purifies, but also promotes social activity and a sense of community. New walk- and cycle-ways enhance the livability of the green spaces around the new main building comprising two linked volumes: a single-level construction for commercial use and a three-level mixed-use building. The commercial building operates as a “green machine” with a vast 1,000 sq. m green wall containing over 17,000 climbing plants, an ample garden roof, patios that bring greenery into the interior spaces, photovoltaic panels and rainwater collectors. A sinuous green wall forms the base of the building’s main façade: a continuous curvilinear surface of transparent translucent glass panels supported by an aluminum skeleton. Overhangs and porches offer shady protected outdoor spaces during the day. At night, the building lights up like a giant curvilinear lantern enabling orientation and ease of circulation. Indeed, the architectural program goes well beyond the traditional prefabricated container often associated with large-scale commercial buildings to embrace an organic vocabulary. Careful selection of construction materials, sensitivity for the expressive qualities of architecture, and genuine concern for environmental sustainability influence this vocabulary further.
The project also includes five residential buildings, which act as intermediary elements between the multifunctional complex and Lake Mariotti. Ethereal, yet attached to the ground, robust yet elegant, embracing yet open, they do not go unnoticed. Positioned as if along a ribbon, their different orientations provide different views of the surrounding scenery. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and glazed balcony parapets ensure unimpeded views. Architecture becomes an observation point from which to admire the natural world. The changing seasons, weather, and the passage from dawn to dusk, all become inextricable parts of the domestic experience. “Building always means facing and solving a conflict between the need for protection and openness to the outside”, architect Alessandro Bucci reminds us. The impression of openness is reinforced by the façade common elements of all five buildings: a deconstructed, lightweight metal grid made of vertical and horizontal members. The materiality and bright color of the external skin either blend with the white-painted façades or stand out in contrast to the dark-painted walls. The intriguing interplay of light and shadow created by the varying depths further dematerializes the new buildings, alleviating the mass and facilitating their integration to the landscape.
Throughout, the new program is posited on the same fragmented compositional principle, each volume broken down into smaller units, interconnected by staircases and elevator blocks. Smaller in size compared to the other elements and enveloped in glass, these blocks become the project’s spine - clearly visible joints holding the entire volumetric composition together. This variety of size, angle and sightline enhances the organic character of the residential complex: approximately 80 apartments (of 60-170 sq. m)
on the various levels; the ground floor units take advantage of their proximity to the ground, while the fourth and fifth floor penthouse apartments enjoy breathtaking views. The environmental qualities of the apartments have been carefully studied. All benefit from cross-ventilation and ample outdoor spaces, such as terraces, loggias and balconies, protected by vertical sunscreens, pergolas and climbing plants to promote en plein air living in a setting just a few kilometers from the coast with the benefit of constant sea breezes.
Natural vegetation is a key feature of both the commercial-business and residential complex. In the residential building, this takes the form of a private park, accessible exclusively to the residents, with a variety of trees and plants, winding paths and areas for rest and contemplation. The green element is also of major compositional significance, part of the rhythmic alternation of solids and voids, a system linking the individual architectures. At times, greenery frames the buildings, accentuating their architectural qualities, at others, it conceals them completely, blending them with the ecosystem of which they are part.
Location: Rimini, Italy - Client: Commercianti Indipendenti Associati - Architect: Alessandro Bucci Architetti
Design Team: Silvia Ancarani, Barbara Assirelli, Enrico Bertozzi, Diletta Bracchini, Gabriele Convertino,
Enrico Ferraresi, Filippo Govoni, Luca Landi, Elena Mambelli, Stefano Martinelli, Francesca Mura,
Simona Tartaglia, Michele Vasumini - Usable Floor Area: 7,600 m2 residential; 5,000 m2 retail; 1,400 m2 offices
Main Contractor for Residences: Belletti & Baroni Costruzioni - Main Contractor for Commercial
and Office Building: CMC Ravenna and CBR Rimini
Structural: Marco Peroni Ingegneria - Landscape: Paisà Landscape - Study of Environmental and Acoustic Impact: Daniela Tonini - Mechanical and Fire Protection: Società di Ingegneria Studio TI - Electrical: Officina Elettrica
Eikon electrics, By-me home automation system, Tab Free entry phone system with Pixel cover plate: Vimar
Façade Systems: Schüco
Floors and Wall Cladding of Interior Retail and Office Building: Teknostone Collection by Ariostea
Text by Stamatina Kousidi
Photography by Pietro Savorelli
All images courtesy of Alessandro Bucci Architetti