The minimalist architecture typical of Japanese culture combines with the elegance of Italian style in this modern, welcoming work environment. e45 Genuine Italian Design’s concept is based on clean geometric shapes, light-filled comfort and neutral colors combined with warm tones for the new headquarters of Italian-Japanese company SMC, a world leader in pneumatic devices and components. Located in Brugherio (Monza-Brianza province), the complex consists of an office building with three above-ground floors offering a total of 5,000 sq. m space, along with 9,000 sq. m of warehousing.
Milan-based studio e45, which submitted the winning interior design in a 2016 tender, was founded a few years ago by architect Bruno De Rivo and engineer Pietro Morandi. The firm’s team features architects, engineers, designers and urban planners.
At the heart of the project is a central courtyard from which all main routes radiate. A large, full-height rectangular space lit by an outsized skylight houses two large plants and custom-made Japanese-style chandeliers. Similar light fittings characterize the main entrance, a double-height space in which the rear wall is clad in dark metal-effect ceramics. Meeting rooms are located behind the courtyard, while two stairwells lead up from within the plan area; workstations are distributed along the perimeter of the building, configured either as individual offices on the short sides, or open spaces on the long sides.
Both the color palette and materials balance the cool tones of the exposed concrete and large-format ceramics with the warmth of wood and upholstered furniture. Glass walls play a starring role throughout. SMC’s blue color scheme is reprised in the office carpeting and, in a brighter shade, on the workstation partition panels. Furnishings are mainly in white, while desktops are a light oak color. Walnut furniture is also dotted around the space; at the entrance, the reception desk is configured like a monolith, its front clad in light-colored metal sheeting.
Design firm e45 oversaw the entire process, from building concept to interior design and art direction, paying meticulous attention to the smallest details and environmental wellbeing. Radiant ceiling panels double as soundproofing screens, providing optimal thermal and acoustic comfort for the expansive open spaces. In addition, a motorized blind system ensures light comfort and reduced solar radiation.
The design for SMC’s new headquarters caters to the customer’s two most important requests: to create a versatile exhibition center that may be converted into a conference space or split up into training rooms of different sizes, and to provide an innovative area within the warehouse to showcase the company’s products. The exhibition center is located in a lower block intersecting the office block. High acoustic performance partition walls divide up the space to cater to needs as and when they arise; wheeled display cases may be moved around depending on preferred layout. Visitors to the warehouse follow a transparent route through the workshops, allowing customers to appreciate device operation and the various types of tools the company offers.
Location: Brugherio, Monza-Brianza, Italy
Client: SMC Italia
Gross Floor Area: 14,500 m2
Building Architect: Maurizio De Cristofaro
Interior Design: e45 Genuine Italian Design
Main Contractor: Techbau
Electrical, Fire Protection: Pro-Tec Milano
Green Design: Leonardo Oprandi
Photography by Giulio Oldrini, courtesy of e45 Genuine Italian Design
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