The Tagliamento valley opens into a broad alluvial plain that is home to the Rivoli industrial area, setting for the Fantoni campus, in the Osoppo municipality. Inspired by the American university campus approach, this industrial plant rises against a backdrop of the Carnic and Julian Alps. The site was developed progressively, mirroring the company's growth and allowing the overall project to evolve within the framework of the long-running partnership between Fantoni and the Valle architecture practice.
The buildings were built in different periods, producing an atemporal effect in which each addition influences the appearance and perception of the campus in a constant, organic process of change without any overarching plan. The result is a harmonious combination of different, interacting structures that become a sort of "archaeology of change" in which the company's past and present merge successfully.
The most recent work by the Valle architecture practice was to design a new building, called Plaxil 8, for the MDF panel production line, replacing the old Plaxil 4 and Plaxil 5 lines. Housing the longest press in Europe, the building seems almost out of scale, recalling the first production lines of early industrial buildings.
At 300 m long and 28 m wide, it covers around 8,500 sq.m. with an average height of 14.5 m, although the highest point is 50 m, on the western side.
The imposing construction, built with a steel frame, has a single 28 m span created using a roof truss. However, perhaps the most unusual aspect is that the building and the machinery share a load-bearing structure. This equates to complete integration between the manufacturing line and the edifice, an amalgamation of architecture and engineering in which the structural skeleton, including the installations, is literally visible inside.
Outside the effect is quite different, as the horizontal development culminates in a metallic tower housing various levels of molding machinery.
Each in its own shade of grey, the four types of cladding on the exterior - expanded mesh, ribbed metal sandwich panels, and smooth and profiled pre-cast concrete - create a striped effect that emphasizes the overall linearity. The flat roof is covered with reflective, ribbed metal panels that lead onto the sloping roof up to the parallelepiped tower that, covered in expanded mesh, permits glimpses of the interior.
The northern façade has simple lines, only broken by the effect of the cladding and a single line of windows, with the regular projecting cubes marking the entrances. The southern façade is different, characterized by the curving lines of tubes entering and exiting the building.
The visual power of the geometric shapes and actual volumes is offset through the use of envelope textures, with the transparency of the metallic cladding helping to dematerialize the structure. Overall, the architectural composition is characterized by a depth of planes and perspectives.