Along the road leading out from the center of Bologna to the north-east, to the Po Delta, beneath the big rail interchange to the east of the city, lies a large manufacturing and crafts area that was built in the 1960s, zoned as small warehouses for crafts activities and large shopping centers. In among this serried alternation of cookie-cutter container buildings, small craft operations and manufacturing, the Fondazione Fashion Research Italy (FRI)’s new headquarters stands out as an architectural and functional exception. Established in 2015, the FRI Foundation is a non-profit organization. The brainchild of the head of the La Perla fashion group, it is located in completely refurbished space at the Bologna group’s historic headquarters. The location boasts a teaching center, exhibition area and archives dedicated to training, innovation and promoting the fashion industry as a vital part of Italy’s economic and productive system. Experience garnered in over 50 years of manufacturing provides the cornerstone of a new project combining teaching and innovation. In architectural terms, this ambitious synergy has been translated into a repurposing of two existing post-modern buildings, plus the conception of a brand new connecting volume designed by the Studio Cervellati Associati. The sequence of the three buildings, linked by footways, is the project’s leitmotif for telling the story of the foundation’s three assets: experience, teaching and communication. The neoclassic entrance was conceived as a built “flaticon”, symbolizing the complex’s display-oriented and cultural purposes. Visitors experience the contrast between the previously-existing buildings and the contemporary new element via the sole colored element in the whole project, the multimedia footway linking all three buildings, which represents the educational pathway that the Foundation has conceived. The focal point of the entire project, the new Academy, spans two levels, lengthening out across the two previous buildings. The lower level is more intensely furnished than the upper level, completely glazed with classrooms and a large hall directly accessible from the footway. The upper level consists of a linear portion that is a little more set back, with a jutting curved portion in line with the conference hall. The changing light during the day and over the year is celebrated by the white panels on the leading-edge solid-surface façade. This material was chosen for its transformative potential: it is soft, warm to the touch yet luminous and deep, easy to repair and 100% recyclable. The multimedia footway ends at an enormous 21,000 LED light sculpture in the foyer of the exhibition space, which offers 2000 sq. m of open space distributed over three floors. The exhibition space was obtained by hollowing out the restored four-story building’s interior to offer the utmost flexibility for staging exhibitions, events and meetings, while housing one of Europe’s most important collections of design textiles.
Completion Date: June 2017
Gross Floor Area: 6.180 m2
Costs of Construction: 8.7000.000 Euros
Architect: Studio Cervellati Associati
Design Team: Ulrich Seum, Pier Luigi Cervellati, Federica Finelli, Giorgio D'Albano, Ana Bigarella, Duilia Madonia
Main Contractor: Paolo Castelli SpA
Structural: Gilberto Dallavalle, Friedrich Drollmann
Services Engineering: Omega Impianti (Luca Landi, Mirco Mantovani)
Safety Coordinator: Massimo Ranieri
Lighting: Riluce (Chiara Rinolfi)
Landscape: Maria Grazia Manzini
Fire System and Safety: Ingegneria del Fuoco
Ceramic External Cladding: Porcelanosa
Windows and Doors Frames: Camero
Audio-visual Equipment: Senso Immersive Experience
Windows and Doors Frames: Schüco
Audio-visual Equipment: Videoworks
Photography: © Daniele Domenicali, © Ulrich Seum
STUDIO CERVELLATI ASSOCIATI
As an architectural practice, Studio Cervellati Associati specializes in the restoration and refurbishment of buildings and the urban environment. The practice delivers client solutions that reconcile the technical and intellectual with the craftsmanship-led approach that underlies all its projects. The firm balances research, experimentation, experience and know-how, ensuring that the creative process forms part of the wider production process.
Architect and professor Pier Luigi Cervellati, Councilor for town planning at the Municipality of Bologna, Lecturer in Town Planning and Urban/Local Renewal at the University of Bologna and Venice (IUAV), works on urban planning and environmental-related issues, with a special eye for the restoration of old towns and protecting the countryside. He is a former Board member of the Istituto Beni Culturali Regione E.R.
Architect Ulrich Seum, who graduated in architecture from Frankfurt in 1991, is a member of the Bologna Order of Architects. He is Technical Director at the Practice and a partner, with more than twenty years’ experience in planning and works management for contemporary and historical buildings. He has followed advanced courses in CasaClima, was a regional director of the CasaClima Network, and is enabled as a Security Coordinator. Through the MirAR company, he has created augmented reality apps for tourism and cultural heritage.