In Querceta Seravezza, near Lucca, the transformation of the ancient Henraux sawmill. A proto-industrial building from 1890 where marble has always been processed, now welcomes the company's multi-purpose space used as a showroom, but also for exhibitions and cultural activities

The history of the Henraux company dates back to 1821 when Jean Baptiste Alexandre Henraux gave new life to the Altissimo quarries, from which Michelangelo had drawn the precious white and veined marble for his masterpieces. In the following years Henraux provided the stone material for architectural works on a global scale, including St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg (1845), the reconstruction of Montecassino (1945-1962) and portions of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (1962). Today the company continues the business promoted by Erminio Cidonio (General Manager from 1957 to 1966), who created an international sculpture centre and collaborated with numerous artists such as Henry Moore, Hans Jean Arp, Joan Miró and Isamu Noguchi, just to name a few. In more recent times the name Emilio Isgrò stands out: creator of Seme dell'Altissimo made for the Milan Expo 2015 and today placed in front of the Milan Triennale.


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Founded in Florence in 1988 by Laura Andreini, Marco Casamonti and Giovanni Polazzi, today Archea is an architectural and design office where more than 80 architects are operating in the Florence, Rome and Milan branches.The Founding partners were joined in 1999 by Silvia Fabi who coordinates the design activities of the architecture practice. Also thanks to the Partners design firms located in Beijing, Dubai and San paolo, Archea so far has achieved Architecture, Design, Interior Design and Graphic Design works all over the world. The interests and research activities of the firm range from the landscape to the city, from buildings to design. Even if the focus is on architecture, the projects vary from graphic design to publishing, from exhibitions to applied research.

The Querceta Seravezza workshop (Lucca) is an authoritative witness of this dense and lengthy productive and artistic history; an architecture that anticipates the industrial warehouse genre by a century as a large space with a rectangular layout, marked by gates and openings with a double-pitched roof supported by the harmonic sequence of lattice metal ribs.

But unlike the anonymous prefabricated containers, with its long walls of stone, rocks, bricks and ashlars, the ancient Henraux sawmill differs from the inexpressive condition of most of the productive centres in Italy, instead telling its own story.

The reformation and transformation project led by Archea Associati fits into this narrative perspective, in the successful attempt to interpret and bring out the traces of time by combining the sum of the pre-existing elements with the contemporary signs it did not want to renounce.

The ancient perimeter walls were brought to light with their irregular and fascinating texture, together with the light lattice beams of the roof and the bridge crane with its chains from the ceiling (considered as objects trouvé), all connected to the new."

Thus, staying in line with the concept of urban artefact recovery, the ancient perimeter walls were brought to light with their irregular and fascinating texture, together with the light lattice beams of the roof and the bridge crane with its chains from the ceiling (considered as objects trouvé), all connected to the new: the grouted smooth-cement floor and the newly built marble staircase that leads to the loft - design elements conceived as white and massive abstract volumes emerging from the ancient building closure without being at all shy.

The choice of furnishings, the large Essential and On the Rocks sofas by Francesco Binfaré and the colourful chairs by Jacopo Foggini for Edra also contribute to highlighting the relationship between history and modernity that the project clearly emphasises. And that the company Henraux, active on several fronts, supports with the brand Luce di Carrara.

Project Archea Associati - Photos Neri Casamonti / courtesy by Archea Associati