Seveso || Italy
The Lombardy Foundation for the Environment (FLA) is a non-profit organisation established by the regional government in 1986 that focuses on both scientific and educational activities for varying sectors of the public in the areas of the environment, quality of life and sustainability. The centre is located in Seveso, site of a dioxin emission accident at a local chemical company in 1976 that left this town and many surrounding municipalities under a chemical cloud. Opening this centre in Seveso is clearly symbolic, with innovative architecture designed to create a structure that, while attracting visitors, provides space for numerous activities with varying goals, offering the required flexibility of use. At the same time, the building manifestly seeks to be recognisable.
The coordinated use of shapes, materials, colours and the
manipulation of light are the tools that produce a highly functional building characterised by complex space use, layout and volumes. These are also the elements that help make the structure stand out. The plan is a partial oval shape cut off by a glazed facade marked by a smaller protruding curved structure housing the revolving door for the main entrance. The building faces the town, an elegant part of the built environment that is exalted both by the natural light and the artificial light flowing from the interior. The oval-shaped plan is virtually reinforced through a paved section in front of the building that differs from the remaining area. This idea is then extended to the pathway around the edge of the edifice. The notion of this building standing out in this urban setting is picked up in the use of small ponds of water along
the front that reflect the building.
It is a complex, sophisticated design in which intersection and flexibility are the defining features. The curved section of the building - a concrete shell clad in larch panels - is characterised by gaps that not only provide space for the two side entrances, but also, since they are glazed, help reveal the complexity of the design and allow glimpses of the different colours used across the three storeys. Inside on the ground floor, where geometrical shapes dominate along with the concept of flexibility, there are oval shapes and two cylindrical structures that house the stairs (including a lift) and the bathrooms. The division of space to cater for exhibitions, seminars and conferences is done using curtains and movable walls, allowing the size and number of rooms to be changed easily and quickly.
This makes it possible to deal with events of varying importance and ensure the centre can be used for educational and training initiatives, as well as activities more focused on scientific debate. The middle level is given over to office and research areas, with the keywords being interaction and cooperation. The top floor has classrooms, multimedia facilities and rooms, and a covered terrace. Inside the building, the overwhelming feature is the very evident combination of materials, such as the coloured windows that mark out the different floors, the exposed concrete walls, the load-bearing pillars in the free-plan space, the expanded metal sheets and the wood. This dense weave of materials mirrors the complex composition of the volumes. A further gap in the centre of the building gives a sense of the height of the complex and allows
coloured light to flow out of the glazed walls.
The use of natural lighting, the ventilation, the screening of sunlight and the use of renewable energy sources ensure this is overtly an environmentally friendly design.
Location: Seveso, Monza Brianza
Client: Fondazione Lombardia per l’Ambiente
Gross Floor Area: 2.000 m2
Architects: Giuseppe Marinoni – StudioMarinoni
Interior and lighting: Giuseppe Marinoni – StudioMarinoni, Vilma Cernikyte
Works Management: Giuseppe Marinoni – StudioMarinoni
Contractor: SI.GE.CO Costruzioni
Electrical and Mechanical Systems: Ariatta Ingegneria dei Sistemi
Expanded Plate, Facings, Stairs: Metalltech
Suspended Ceilings, Plasterboard: Lithos Plus
Wooden Structures: Holz Albertani
Ventilated Façades, Wooden Facings: Puntoacapo
Photography: © Giovanni Chiaramonte
Giuseppe Marinoni (Milan, 1961) is an architect with a PhD in Urban Projects and Policies. He carries out activities of planning and design and research into themes related to the transformation of the contemporary city. As an architect in his own right and as managing director of StudioMarinoni srl, Giuseppe Marinoni carries out projects of urban planning and design and architectural and landscape design in Italy and abroad. He teaches architectural design and urban planning at the Faculty of Architecture of Milan Polytechnic. In 2011 he founded the publishing house SMOwnPublishing, with the aim of bringing out books on architecture, photography and landscape.
His clients include governments, local authorities and institutional and private investors. Among other awards and marks of recognition, in 2006 he won the international competition for the Centro Studi FLA, as well as the one for the Urban Project of the Portasud Intermodal Centre in Bergamo, in 2007 he won the international competition for the Feasibility Study of the MOVIcentro in Novara, in 2009 he won the tender for the PGT (Territorial Administration Plan) of Abbiategrasso, while in 2010 he won the ‘Gateway to Milan’ international competition for Malpensa Airport with the ‘Magic Threshold’ project.