The extension of the Pratic, built in adherence to the industrial building of the first lot, is a complex project, despite apparently showing an essential character. This is a rectangular building of about 9.000 sqm that completes and improves the existing production department built in 2011. The functional program is almost the same of the previous building: offices, services, canteen, wellness area, production, warehouses, a painting plant, as well as parking areas and service areas included in the rigorous design of the open spaces.
The new building consists of two simple elements: the rhythm given by the windows, which repeats and declares continuity with the existing facades, and the reflecting skin, which dissolves the new volume in the sky.
The first lot of Pratic, black and grainy, seemed to arise from the ground, rooting the building in place; the second lot, always black but reflective and iridescent, mirrors the landscape and the light with images that are always different due to atmospheric variability. The first one is "heavy" and permanent, in search of eternity, the second one "light" and changeable, ready to dissolve in the sky: the building completed the molt of its skin.
The facade consists of a single material, in a unique size: a 4 centimetres thick polycarbonate panel, about 10 meters high, fixed to prefabricated concrete panels. The polycarbonate panels are customized for this project, in order to obtain a reflecting facade when seen from afar and "deep" when observed closely. The panels consist of two different types of polycarbonate combined together: the rear side has an opaque compound which impedes the light to pass through, while the front is frozen. In this way the load-bearing structure is completely hidden behind the cladding system and the verticality of the new facade sets up an interesting dialogue with the black concrete panels of the existent building. From afar the building reflects the sky and appears cladded by huge glass plates, while close up it looks "lighter", maintaining a dialogue with the pre-existence. The mirroring of the panels also ensures a continuous colour variation of the facades: depending on the time of the day and varying in light intensity the building may appear black, golden, metallic, opaque, glossy. Infinitely changeable.
The entire settlement is included in the architectural design of the landscape and open spaces.
Places designed for relaxation, pedestrian paths and parking lots are enclosed in the design of the "modified embankments" that insert subtle variations of slope with respect to the roads and access roads. In this way, the project is inserted in the ground in a clear way, highlighting the shape and geometry of the territory. The building demonstrates that industrial architecture can add value to the landscape and improve the quality of the workplace. This is a great opportunity to rethink the relationship between architecture and nature, putting man back in the middle.
Photo credits: Javier Callejas