Marco Acerbis' project intervenes on a 1960 building, freeing the reinforced concrete structure and discovering an analogy between beams and pillars and bicycle frames

The renovation of the Santini Cycling production site, entrusted to Marco Acerbis, starts from suggestions that are well suited to an architect who is also a cyclist: “Cycling is fatigue, sweat, sun, rain and wind in your face. It's speed and resistance but it's also dynamism and the ability to adapt to situations. There are many emotions that characterize this sport for both the professional and the amateur at any level."

Hence the project created in the former headquarters of Perofil in Bergamo, designed in 1960 by Giuseppe Gambirasio, a student of Albini and Gardella and a leading exponent of the architecture of the second half of the last century.

Read also: The Franco Albini method

An important pre-existence to deal with, addressed by transferring the dynamism of cycling into architecture, in a work of lightening and formal cleanliness.

The beauty of reinforced concrete

“The structure of beams and pillars with variable shapes in reinforced concrete is an element that we immediately liked very much” explains Acerbis. “We therefore decided to lighten the columns from a whole series of internal partitions that hid and spoiled these reinforced concrete masterpieces, opting more for open space spaces and where necessary inserting light internal glass subdivisions.

This allowed natural light to flow more elegantly within the spaces, creating an endless change of shadows that transform the exposed reinforced concrete structure into a real sculpture".

21 steps, like the stages of the Grand Tours

The procedure for the two reinforced concrete stairs, cast in the 1960s, is similar: "two helical ramps that escape the eye like a bicycle > which disappears behind a hairpin bend, two masterpieces of both design and above all construction. Those things from other times that when you stop to observe them you cannot help but admire the intellectual and physical ability of the bricklayers who built them".

And what's more, the discovery is an even more evocative 'gem' of the cycling world: there are twenty-one steps along both ramps, just like the stages of the Grand Tours in which Santini is the protagonist, from the Giro d'Italia to the Spanish Vuelta stage race up to the Tour de France of which the Maglia Gialla is the sponsor. Since 2022, Santini has also been a partner of the Paris-Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Parigi-Tours races, as well as the women's races Paris-Roubaix Femmes, La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes. The collaboration also extends to Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphiné.

To emphasize the dynamic effect the steps were widened and the parapets replaced with the repetition of an L-shaped element in curved metal. The slit between one L and the other lets light pass through, further lightening the scale and accentuating the volumetric effect.

The passage of natural light

The architectural interventions also involved the covering of the two stairwells leading to the first floor. The new central window allows not only to see the space also from the outside but also allows natural light to enter from the ground floor to the first floor where the offices are located, so the building experiences the constant change of sunlight.

Focal elements of the ground floor, the two large counters act, one as a reception towards the entrance and the other, on the opposite side, as a bar and place of aggregation and representation. On the side opposite the entrance there is the showroom which, together with the restaurant area, overlooks the private garden of the company.

The new headquarters of Santini Cycling, in numbers

To respond to production growth, Santini acquired a much larger and more central area, where it moved from Lallio between 2022 and early 2023.

Each product is created and developed with raw materials, most of them Italian, in the Research and Development department. The new headquarters occupies 24,000 square metres, of which: 14,300 of factory, 6000 of production plant, 500 of hall, 250 of shop, 460 of showroom and 1000 of offices.

It has 14,000 square meters of greenery and is powered by a 290 kwh photovoltaic system.