Materials represent collective design intelligence. In this second step, architects and Italian companies narrate the materials of the future. Today we talk about metals and marble

Marco Casamonti / Archea Associati

Arena Kombëtare, the stadium of Tirana (2016-2019), is a facility for sports and leisure time, a multifunctional complex that becomes a driver of urban regeneration in the heart of the capital city of Albania. This is a project of replacement, because it is located on the same area that once hosted the Qemal Stafa sports complex, used for track and field and soccer, designed at the end of the 1930s by the Florentine architect Gherardo Bosio. The original has been completely demolished, with the exception of the monumental entrance to the VIP seating, which has been reconstructed and restored. The new stadium is a multifunctional complex with a fully covered sports area, composed of shops, offices and a hotel, putting the complex into close relation to a city that is constantly evolving. The tower containing the hotel spaces is over 100 meters high and has become a landmark in Tirana. The glass façade system, one of the key themes of the project, extends for an area of over 30,000 square meters and is protected by over 3000 aluminium colums that act as sunscreens. As slender vertical elements one story high, to be placed in eight different rotations, the columns configure and reinterpret the patterns of fabrics and traditional Albanian carpets on the surfaces. Each façade column is composed of multiple staffs assembled with sheets of press-folded 3105 aluminium alloy by I.S.A. Vascelli, chosen for its workability and excellent resistance to corrosion. To protect the building from the weather, a cycle has been carried out of cataphoresis and heat-hardening powder coating with Qualicoat 2. The coating, in the alternating tones of red and dark gray, is a direct reference to the colors of the national flag.”

Nicola De Pellegrini and Giovanni Bez / Anidride Design Architettura

“In the construction of the Blackfin headquarters at Taibon Agordino, Belluno, the design idea was to exploit the small available space, a frequent condition in Alpine valleys, incorporating it in the form of a monolith whose roof becomes a fifth façade. The skyline of the fronts represents the profile of the surrounding Dolomites, with taut lines and pronounced overhangs that establish a dialogue with the vertical dimension of the landscape, in a direct, unmediated connection. A clear architectural-material statement that is the emblem of the odi et amo of living and working in places that are difficult but also of high value, such as those of the mountains. The ventilated façades made by Larentis Lorenz of Trento are in aluminium sheet, painted black like the roof (The Black Shelter), in an apparently seamless solution. We have chosen a material of recycled origin that contains no plastics, because aluminium has great virtues of lightness and durability, and above all it is sustainable, 100% recyclable. A ventilated aluminium façade has intrinsic characteristics of circular design. The rhythm of the panels is interrupted, then resumed, but always harmonious with the weighty geometry of the structure. The metal sheets have hexagonal holes that offer a glimpse of the skeleton below, only from specific vantage points. The matrix of the openings is designed like the cracks in rock; hence the surrounding walls, also in the elevations, become almost dynamic, depending on the angle of the light. The monolith becomes mutable, constantly changing its appearance, between shadows and reflections, across the hours of the day.”

Massimo Alvisi / Alvisi Kirimoto

“The volume containing the new Accademia della Musica in Camerino (Macerata), designed with Studio Harcome and the engineer Paolo Bianchi for the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, stands out for its ethereal skin in white sheet metal, featuring holes of various sizes that represent the counterpart of the harder elevation in dark gray masonry, with porthole-shaped windows. This cladding formed by aluminium panels entirely custom made by Subissati and coated with epoxy powders forms a layer that is an impalpable veil, permeable to light, in a white color to reduce overheating and to improve the energy efficiency of the building (with floors in porcelain stoneware by Marazzi). The 130 squared white sheets, with a thickness of just 3 mm and a modular grid with a span from center to center of 6.75 cm, have been individually shaped to stand up to wind and snow, as well as to deformation that could be caused by tremors or earthquakes. The laser-cut openings have a configuration that seems to suggest the clouds and their temporary nature, playing with the hills and the marvelous surrounding landscape.”

Matteo Thun & Partners

“Every work of architecture has its own identity, and the material with which it is made enables its full expression. In the project for the headquarters of Davines in Parma, conceived as a village of two-story houses inspired by archetypal forms, grouped around a large garden to create a familiar, positive working environment, the starting point can be summed up in three key terms: transparency, nature and simplicity. We chose a zinc-titanium alloy produced by Zintek for the roofs, because it jibes with our vision of architecture. It is an ecological, recyclable and durable material, used in construction in the form of ribbons, sheets or straps, which can optimize the perception of quality in a space because in its chemistry the titanium improves the performance of the zinc, increasing its resistance to deformation and corrosions. In a natural state, this material has a glossy, homogeneous color. With weathering, the surface is covered by a self-protecting layer that remains stable over time, going through natural ageing that shifts the tone towards slate gray. Furthermore, this material is flameproof, resistant to UV rays, and requires no special maintenance. Paired with a suitable substructure, it reduces humidity and heat dispersion in spaces, contributing to cut energy consumption.”

Paolo Asti / Asti Architetti

“We have intervened on a building constructed in 1899-1901 with a design by the architect Luigi Broggi, which was the first location of the Milan Bourse and then of the postal service, while today it contains the first Starbucks outlet in Italy. On the one hand, this was a conservative restoration of the outer facades in pink stone, while on the other it involved modernization of the internal spaces and connections, respecting their original design, with a particular accent on livability from the standpoint of aesthetic quality and energy efficiency. The old skylight in the large central hall has been reinterpreted in a contemporary way, like the internal fronts now made permeable by full-height glazing facing gardens created at different levels in the new courtyard. The material chosen for the façades of the courtyard is white Carrara marble paneling by Slate-Lab, combining the lightness of a ‘film’ with the concrete character of marble: a fundamental need for a building facing an important 19th-century square like Piazza Cordusio. These sheets of ‘apparent stone’ have a very natural effect, as well as the important advantage of easy installation at high levels, as in the case of this raised internal courtyard. We are talking about thickness of about 2 mm, and a very limited weight, about two kilos per square meter. The innovation lies in having used these materials for outdoor surfaces, although they were first created as interior facings.”