Designed by Giovanna Mar, the Virgin Fitness Centre in Mestre, northern Italy, is located in an industrial park running along the Terraglio trunk road that links Venice and Treviso. Conceived as more than a jumble of warehouse sheds set in their own yard, the industrial park has a ample central pedestrian thoroughfare resembling an urban space. A central square leads off to the main entrances of the various buildings while the service entrances at the back connect with the roads. The staggered layout of the buildings and their sloping outer façades keep the focus on the pedestrian area and create a dialogue between the buildings themselves. The two-storey Virgin Fitness Centre is a 12 m high pure, monolithic volume (with indoor pool) of about 60x46 m. Its horizontal development is further highlighted by the staggered, irregular, horizontal cladding strips and seams of the titanium-zinc (Anthra Zinc® by Vm Zinc) outer façade. Joined at the corners, this outer envelope stands independent of the structure behind. Supported by a metal frame, it slopes outward away from the vertical inner walls. The upward movement this imparts to the edges gives the whole volume a striking dynamism. Large enough to allow maintenance work, the space between outer cladding and inner façade also acts as a ventilated air space ensuring comfort zone temperatures inside the building. Deep recesses in the façade create a shadow cone designed to shield the inner wall and glazing from direct sunlight. A large canopy in the characteristic Virgin-brand red marks out the main entrance and breaks the continuity of the façade. Great care has been taken to design the cornices of windows, doors and entrance canopy so as to maintain the sleek lines of the overall building.
Umicore Building Products Italia Via Riccardo Lombardi, 19/16 I - 20153 Milano Tel. + 39 02 47998222 Fax + 39 02 4799821 www.vmzinc.it