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IBM Headquarters

AN URBAN LANTERN

Z14 Alessandro Ridolfi Architetto

An “urban lantern”. This was the concept that triggered the project. Completely transparent, IBM’s Italian headquarters is an urban landmark, especially at night when the interiors turn it into a huge glowing lantern - a symbol from afar, a lodestar orienting travelers in the dark. The lanterns are in fact three: three huge transparent light-filled objects that arouse the same awe in motorists travelling the Rome-Fiumicino highway that wayfarers felt on the ancient Via Portuense. Although made of three glass units, the new complex has only one entrance ramp leading to the base on which all three rest. The overall impression is of a single, ineffably lightweight dematerialized volume. On entering, the sensation is of a total new kind of space. Even the vistas onto the surrounding urban landscape are like nothing before seen.
The new headquarters meets Rome’s need for contemporary architecture, for even if steeped in the antiquities and centuries of tradition, Rome offers many opportunities to build architecture of our day.
The complex was designed throughout to allow full views onto the external landscape from within. To do this, traditional construction methods were used to put in place avant-garde design allowing excellent energy performance. As a result, IBM’s new headquarters stands as a contemporary reference model. The differently oriented interconnected elements allow the complex to achieve the best possible level of indoor comfort and energy savings with an optimal combination of natural daylighting, low-energy artificial illumination, insulated glass curtain walling, and ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The façades are the building’s most striking architectural feature. The elevations are shielded by a regular series of horizontal brise-soleil whose shape and size are the result of in-depth studies into the amount of direct sunlight falling on each façade. This wrap around...

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