The recovery and transformation of a factory in the industrious territory to the north of Milan develops seamlessly towards the crafts workshops of Brianza, juxtaposed with the new facilities of the Italian furniture district. This was the theme of the project approached by Amdl Circle and Michele De Lucchi in the creation of the new office headquarters of Zambon. A choice of a path that inserts itself in the dense international progress of the new millennium, which identifies cities as opportunities for a dialectic compositional confrontation.
Existing buildings have been treated as artifacts worthy of note and reuse, apart from their figure and their history; urban presences subject to modification, additions and elisions, through what has been defined as a sort of urban micro-surgery. This is the case of a former factory near Milan where metal sections were once manufactured, whose regular ‘three-aisle’ structure with a quadrangular layout has permitted a lucid, well-balanced intervention, aimed at generating a space in which to create interconnected zones to facilitate sharing and interaction. The use of materials (including larch wood for the new entrance volume), the transformation of the facades into a mathematical box of glass to capture natural light, and the cuts made in the slabs between the two levels have played a guiding role for the creation of comfort inside the workspaces.
The project is part of the Earth Stations research which AMDL Circle and Michele De Lucchi have conducted over time with the aim of defining architectural typologies capable of utilizing humanistic and technological knowledge to generate optimal environmental conditions and human relations. Z-Life combines the structure of the former factory with a new perimeter volume in glass and steel, reprised in the volumetric addition of the entrance facade. The existing figure clearly stands out, independent, with a system of reinforced concrete beams and pillars, a reutilized sawtooth roof and reticular beams that run across the full-height space, perceptible thanks to the elliptical cut of the lobby that flanks the design of the wooden ceiling in a successful dialogue between past and present.
The material-compositional counterpoint of the entire project permits the new headquarters to become an iconic structure, an outstanding landmark on the OpenZone science campus. The existing building has been approached with additions and elisions, opening a central courtyard which on ground level contains the new two-story atrium, and continues inside with a new circular space for meetings and presentations, known as Open Lamp: a large staircase topped by a dome in wood and glass that breaks through the floor slab and emerges on the central terrace, faced by the offices on the first floor. At the top, the roof has been conceived as a ‘fifth facade’ offered to viewing from the surrounding buildings, like a roof garden that changes across the seasons.
Inside the flexible spaces capable of hosting various typological solutions connected with new ways of working in the office, the studio Carlo Ratti Associati has intervened with an evocative project called Sunny Inside, which develops the concept of biophilic design. Transparent capsules for meetings, collective tables and counters suspended from the ceiling, operative zones for different types of groupings are arranged inside the open, balanced spaces of the architectural project.
An innovative lighting system, through SunLike LED technology, makes it possible to reproduce natural light inside the spaces, while also permitting the insertion of green hydroponic areas. Small, unusual ‘gardens’ thus flank the work zones, where as in every part of the building the light is similar to that of the sun, underlining the indoor-outdoor continuity pursued by the new glass facades of the entire architectural enclosure.
Architectural design AMDL CIRCLE and Michele De Lucchi - Interiors Carlo Ratti Associati Photos Luca Rotondo, Marco Beck Peccoz