Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
AB MEDICA Headquarters in Milan, Italy by DEGW + Giuseppe Tortato
February 24th, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: DEGW
Offices are not usually designed inside a speedboat, but that is the metaphor chosen for the new headquarters of AB Medica in Cerro Maggiore, a project by Giuseppe Tortato. Specialists in developing and marketing sophisticated robots for medical purposes and DNA analyses, AB Medica opened its new headquarters in 2015 inside an “iconic” building in a suburban setting close to the high-speed Milan-Varese motorway, which is inspired by the distinctive shapes and forms of super-fast speedboats. Starting with a dynamically streamlined work of architecture that is also intended to embody the owner’s corporate philosophy based around innovation, AB Medica commissioned DEGW to design a new Space Planning and Interior Design project suitable for an unusual layout (partly due to constraints associated with an elongated triangular building lot) and capable of optimising all the spaces: a project, whose various operating levels encompass approximately 2000 m² of offices over an overall area of 9000 m² serving about 130 people, mainly focusing on the reception areas, ground-floor canteen and waiting area, first-floor client/meeting area and second-floor executive area and offices.
The project for the headquarters of AB Medica, designed by Giuseppe Tortato, incorporates all the functional/symbolic features the client specifically requested in a landmark building designed to develop and enhance a suburban location right alongside the Milan-Varese motorway. Inspired by the hull designs of super-fast speed boats, the architectural design embodies the dynamism and innovation of a group at the very cutting edge in the realm of research, combined with a real focus on energy-saving and the psychophysical well-being of the company workers. A ‘fast’ and functional building, which is also highly distinctive and emblematic in terms of its forms, the operations it accommodates, and the company it represents. Eco-sustainability, industry, creativity and experimentation, exposure to the sun, noise pollution from the motorway, and the workers’ well-being, are the key points of a project custom-designed for its client. This is an iconic building embodying the values of excellence and innovation associated with the business philosophy of a group operating in the development and marketing of sophisticated medical robotics and DNA analyses, which is also extremely cutting-edge and, hence, in synch with the very latest trends in energy-saving and psychophysical well-being at work.
The speed and dynamism of the nearby motorway are transferred into a work of architecture inspired by the elegant and highly-developed world of super-fast speed boats. The distinctive shape of the building lot and all the motorway restrictions/constraints dictated the design of a triangular-shaped form reminiscent of a ship’s hull gliding between man-made hills designed to provide heat and sound insulation for the entire construction.
Space Planning DEGW worked with Giuseppe Tortato on certain design features: the space planning of the offices, furnishing project, concept for the corporate canteen, the reception desk and general mood of the colour scheme and the choice of materials. The Space Planning for the offices area was aimed at making the most of all the surface areas and different depths of each floor, setting out the workstations (enclosed and open space) around the perimeter of the space, which, in turn, is focused around an elaborate central support hub: a so-called diffused Hub consisting of a photocopying area, break area, lockers, niche informal areas and meeting rooms, which wind around a long and sinuous customised bench designed for touchdown stations and create a mixed-use environment where formal work comes together with more spontaneous and informal operations, exploiting the comfort provided by natural wells of light shining through skylights and triangular internal patios.
The Interior Design, which, at the time the commission was made, already included plenty of finishing features chosen by the Client (such as the floors and false ceilings), focused on new finishes to be incorporated in the relevant spaces (even including custom-designed floors), the concept for a company canteen, the position and ideal layout of the reception desk and the general mood of the colour schemes and materials for all the building’s new spaces. A mood and feel which, in tune with the character of the architectural design and corporate values (and directly geared to the Owner), was based on a palette of two main colour: fluid watery colours and cool technological shades, enhanced by qualities like transparency, care, reliability and comfort coming from the materials used.
Special features were studied for the executive offices with its designer furniture and, above all, the reception, whose main desk also evokes the smoothly flowing forms of a boat, and also the ground-floor reception/canteen area: here the company canteen (featuring a combination of a “set” of niche chairs and more conventional tables) and an area accommodating meeting rooms, open-space stations and informal areas come together to provide multiple potential uses beyond any kind of binary logic of productivity and leisure, work and rest. Immediately upon entering the building, attention is focused on psychophysical well-being in the work environment, which runs right through the entire project.
The greenery blends indissolubly into the architectural object to become part of the building material itself, contributing to its insulation and the quality of life of its users. The structure, which is sculpted at the base by the large sloping stanchions of the ventilated curtain facades (constructed using the StoVentec R system and supplementing the insulation and energy-saving functions), opens up at the top floor into an airier and more brightly-lit section composed of a column set on the prefabricated construction below but structurally freestanding. This free and totally-glazed floor accommodates the open-space offices, where all the structural features are set around triangular patios and the irregular perimeter of the building. The roof, which, in turn, is rotated in the direction of sunlight compared to the ground floor’s fixed position, has major overhangs acting as sunscreens and characterised by the triangular perforations of the patios, which provide comfortable natural lighting throughout the entire operating level.
The cutting-edge plant-engineering, which even exploits geothermal power as a renewable energy source through a hybrid system of heat pumps supplied by Clima Veneta: a multipurpose water-water heat pump using groundwater and a multipurpose air-water heat pump exploiting heat in the air. Using groundwater for air-conditioning the premises by means of high-performance heat pumps is optimised by a supply of water for fire-extinguishing purposes. The groundwater also supplies the irrigation system for the extensive area of greenery.
Natural lighting for the office floors (geared to the changing seasons) is guaranteed by positioning the facades appropriately and the carefully-gauged use of overhangs in relation to almost fully-glazed walls. Plenty of thought has gone into the use of glass in accordance with the building’s high energy rating, while at the same time ensuring it remains a high-quality, distinguishing feature of the entire work environment. The study and creation of the internal and external lighting was handled in close partnership with Zumtobel’s design staff, which also supplied all the lighting appliances for both the office spaces and technical/storage spaces.
Contact DEGW + Giuseppe Tortato