“Labics. La Città aperta” architecture and historical public space of Italy

The exhibition invites a parallel reading amongst two Labics projects – MAST and CITTA DEL SOLE – and several Italian historic public spaces. This relationship is the discourse on Italian public space and Italian attitude, and its capacity to introduce a certain specificity to the globalization of contemporary architecture.

 

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

 

The exhibition takes its direction from two different assumptions: the first one is that architecture is a civic art, an art that has the responsibility of creating and giving shape to collective space, spaces for shared experiences and knowledge. The second assumption relates to the modernity of the public spaces of the historic Italian city; a modernity conceived not as an abstract quality but as a spatial structure, with the intrinsic characteristics of a simultaneously open yet articulate fabric — both complex and varied, a space which is structurally and deeply democratic.


 

Practical information

“Labics. La Città aperta”
November 17- November 27, 2015
CASABELLA laboratorio
via Marco Polo 13
Milano

 


These precise and recognisable characteristics present a valid alternative to the neutral functionality of the modern city and to the commercial rationale that very often motivates the transformation of the contemporary city.

 

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

 

Based on these assumptions the exhibition invites a parallel reading amongst two Labics projects – MAST and CITTA DEL SOLE – and several Italian historic public spaces. This relationship is not a one to one comparison, but is evoked and whispered as an unconscious yet very present background for both projects, creating a discourse on Italian public space and Italian attitude, and its capacity to introduce a certain specificity to the globalization of contemporary architecture.

 

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

“Labics. La Città aperta” © Casabella Laboratorio

 

The photos shown in the exhibition are by Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra. The Hélène Binet photos for MAST are newly issued for the exhibition.


 

MAST

A multifunctional building for the Bologna firm GD, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of packaging machines, is located on a corporate campus and contains a variety of employee amenities and public spaces.

The original competition brief asked for a series of buildings across GD’s campus that would not only provide staff facilities – kindergarten, canteen, training rooms, staff club and gym – and public spaces – a training center, auditorium, and a company museum – but significantly improve both employee welfare and GD’s public image.

 

Mast, Bologna, 2013, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

Mast, Bologna, 2013, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

 

Labics’ design proposes to bring together these diverse space types into a single, multifunctional building, reinforcing the identity of the company and allowing more flexibility and interactivity in the use of its spaces. The building differs from the surrounding fragmented urban fabric in that it addresses its context, mediating between the solidity of the existing buildings on the GD campus and the open spaces of the nearby River Reno park.

It therefore has two ‘fronts’: a more private, linear front that relates to the existing GD campus buildings, and a second, more public front that opens toward the city and park. This public entrance consists of long ramps that directly address the park, inviting the public into the heart of the building.

 

Mast, Bologna, 2013, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

Mast, Bologna, 2013, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

 

The building’s diagram is structured to encourage interaction between its users as they move between the building’s various functions, creating a lively and dynamic environment and encouraging new relationships and connections between the corporate organization and its local community. The openness of the building is further reinforced by a double-glazed insulating envelope that covers the entire façade: the first layer a transparent curtain wall and the second a layer of screenprinted glass with a pixelated photographic design.

MAST

Client: Coesia Group
Location: Bologna, Italy
Program: Creche, Canteen, Wellness centre, Exhibition space, Academy, Auditorium, Caffè, Parking
Competition date: 2006
Project & esecution dates: 2009-2013
Gross floor area: 25.000 sqm
Net floor area: 12.000 sqm


 

CITTA DEL SOLE

Winning competition entry for the redevelopment of an urban area, including the transformation of an existing bus depot, to integrate a mixture of uses that include office, retail space and residential units.

This project is part of the Municipality of Rome’s initiative to redevelop a number of transport depots within the city in conjunction with the local public transport authority ATAC. It involves the regeneration of a neighbourhood with a weak identity but with good growth potential due to its location at the edge of the city centre. Labics’ aim therefore was to create a new centre for the local community, but also to increase its profile as a place of transition with privileged access to the city centre.

 

Citta del Sole, Rome, 2015, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

Citta del Sole, Rome, 2015, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

 

The development of the site has been designed to be porous, demonstrating Labics’ philosophy that cities should be built around systems rather than as a series of objects. Good access to and from the site encourages the flow of people, and the spaces of the public realm are not seen as residual but are fully integrated within the complex of built elements. For example, the basement space becomes the load-bearing structure for high level walkways as well as a pathway in itself. This creates a complex public space, rich in experience.

The project is articulated over different levels, with commercial activities and the public library at ground level and offices on the first floor that together define the plinth on which the public spaces sit. Three buildings are then suspended above this public area – one containing more offices and the other two residential units.

 

Citta del Sole, Rome, 2015, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

Citta del Sole, Rome, 2015, Labics © Hélène Binet and Fernando Guerra

 

The residential buildings demonstrate alternative typologies and external treatments. The first is a tower containing small and medium-sized flats, partially enclosed by a horizontal glass brise-soleil. The second ‘villa’ building contains luxury duplex apartments and is clad with aluminum panels that provide flexible, adjustable sun shading and a playful, ever-changing envelope.

CITTA’ DEL SOLE

Client: Hines Italia SGR S.p.a. (INPGI Hines Fund)
General Contractor: Parsitalia s.r.l.
Location: Rome
Program: Public library, Commercial, Housing, Offices
Competition date: 2007
Project & esecution dates: 2008-2015
Net floor area: 11.800 mq


 

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