A place to immerse yourself in the total Porsche experience and the atmosphere of motor racing, all while surrounded by iconic architecture with a unique design, the eighth Porsche Experience Center Franciacorta – the biggest in the world as well as the first in Italy – just opened in Castrezzato, in the province of Brescia. The complex, located in the area of a former racetrack, is divided into a series of spaces designed to get the public involved, including customers and enthusiasts, but also companies and families. The project, the work of GBPA Architects in collaboration with Dromo, an engineering company specializing in motor racing circuits, occupies an area of 148 acres (60 ha). The project is distinguished by its green approach, reflecting Porsche’s own policy, with all energy used on the site from renewable sources. The center has already obtained ISO 20121 certification, the international standard for event sustainability management.
In finding a location for its new Experience Center, Porsche chose the evocative landscape of hills planted with the vines used to make wines that carry the Franciacorta label. The site is just a stone’s throw from Lake Iseo, and centrally located between Milan, Bergamo, and Verona airports. The facility has two main areas: the Customer Center, a futuristic building characterized by its arched structure, and the Paddock, used for hosting major motorsport events, beginning with the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia.
At the heart of GBPA Architects’ masterplan is the Customer Center, which, located on Provincial Road 16, forms the gateway to the rest of the complex. This impressive 48.5 thousand square foot (4,500 m2) hangar is supported by eleven low-slung glulam arches, with a pitch of 30 feet (9 m), a maximum height of 52 feet (16 m), and a span of 180 feet (55 m). The building is organized around a central hall from where visitors can take in the various functions on the ground and first floors, including briefing rooms, a sports car showroom, a restaurant overlooking the track, a shop, a children’s area, a cafeteria, and a large panoramic terrace with views over the whole center. There’s also a Business Center with seating for 140 and a Board Room for business meetings, both of which can be booked on request. The white roof encapsulates and underscores the concept behind the design, which centers on the principles of transparency and dynamism. These same principles are translated at the architectural level in the alternating opaque surfaces, windows, and sunshades.
The key to the interior design is its juxtaposition of spaces devoted to the world of automobiles, which feature clean lines, transparent surfaces, metallic finishes, and technical fabrics, and the visitor reception areas, which are marked by their soft shapes, warm colors, and natural materials, such as wood. Reflecting the corporate values shared by Porsche and Franciacorta, spaces in the Customer Center have been conceived to combine tradition (in the sense of a passion for excellence), craftsmanship, attention to detail, and innovation (interpreted as ongoing research, technological development, and taking a responsible vision of the future). Particular attention was given to lighting, with islands of light enhancing the various spaces and lamps that underscore the futuristic style of the roof. The project also included the restoration and redesign of all the existing buildings and green areas on the site, which now features lawns, vertical gardens, colorful flower beds, and treed parking facilities.
The Porsche Experience Center Franciacorta includes a racetrack, designed by Dromo, approved for racing by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. The heart of the Paddock, which includes a pit building with 29 pits, is the circuit area. This area includes the 1.5 mile (2.5 km) racetrack, which unfolds in a succession of curves of different radii and chicanes; the safe driving area with a low-grip handling track surrounded by a ring of polished concrete and a section where it’s possible to test the efficiency of the brakes and the stability of cars in emergency maneuvers; and an off-road section with ramps, twists, and dirt roads that offers 19 routes and six special surfaces. There’s also the virtual reality Simulation Lab designed for children, with eight latest-generation simulators, and a 32 thousand square foot (3000 m2) track for electric Go-Karts with three different power maps, available to kids 14 and over. A new Training Center for Porsche dealers, will be completed by the end of the year.
“We’re really proud to have a Porsche Experience Center in our country,” says Pietro Innocenti, CEO of Porsche Italia. “There’s already a lot of circuits in Italy, but Franciacorta is a radically different structure because it’s designed to express the values of our brand and offer a unique and engaging experience.”
Location: Castrezzato, Brescia
Client: Porsche Italia
Project by: GBPA Architects | Arch. Antonio Gioli - Arch. federica De Leva
Paddock project: Dromo
Project Management: Arcadis Italia
General Contractor: Korus International
Structures: Tonelli Ingegneria
Façade and Roof: Tecnomont Service
MEP: Esa Engineering
Structures: Fa.Ma. Ingegneria
Lighting: Voltaire Lighting Design
Landscape: PN progetto Natura
Building Envelope Solutions: Isopan
Photos by: Getty Images, Gianni Rizzotti, courtesy of Porsche Italia