Architects: Mario Cucinella Architects
Location: Rimini, Italy
Project Team: Mario Cucinella, Elizabeth Francis, Davide Paolini, Enrico Iascone
Structure: Gilberto Sarti, Fabio Bombardini
Construction Management: Arch Massimo Morandi
Design year: 2004-2006
client: Edile Carpentieri Srl
Construction Area: 1,500 sqm
Photographs: Daniele Domenicali
The project involved redeveloping a site and constructing a new building for commercial units and offices on the south side of Rimini at the intersection between via Flaminia and viale della Repubblica.
The ground floor of the building is designed to accommodate commercial units while the three upper stories are intended for office space; the building also features an attic floor, a basement floor, and a ground-level car park. The building has an “L” shaped layout, facing onto a major road junction, with the entrance set at the point at which the two axes meet. The entrance is distinguished by a deep fracture – in front of the road intersection – that captures attention against the sheer surface of the façades. The façades describe a 90° arc with the street side clad with a planted green skin in such a way as to create a compact urban frontage. The rear facade of the building is finished with wooden cladding elements. The envelope is formed of a 60 x 60 cm matrix stainless steel grid secured to the structure of cantilevered galleries that provide access to the offices. The steel grid forms a supporting structure for climbing plants (Star Jasmine), creating the appearance of vertical hanging gardens, reminiscent of a ivy covered buildings.
At the rear of the building the two faces looking inwards over the plot form an angle of around 90° offering a secluded space for gardens or a covered piazza.
The ground floor, which has 293 m2 of space for commercial units and 100 m2 for garages, is divided into two symmetrical wings connected centrally by the 32 m2 entrance foyer that accommodates a glass-steel staircase and lift for access to the upper floors.
This architectural solution results in the creation of a 50 m façade for store windows on the road intersection frontage, plus a further 40 m of commercial window space looking onto the internal garden.
The first, second and third floors are dedicated to office space, accessible by means of galleries on the front of the building overlooking the road and enclosed by a steel grid facing that creates an unbroken and compact façade.
The upper floors are composed of two symmetrical wings each of which can be divided into 47, 57 and 70 m2 offices or combined to create open space environments in accordance with user requirements.
This level of flexibility is assured by the presence of service cores that penetrate the building from the ground to the roof, providing a fully serviced site in each unit for the installation of bathroom/toilet facilities if required. 1.5 m balconies have been created for the offices on the two façades overlooking the internal garden.
The attic floor is accessible from the third floor by means of internal stairs and, like the rest of the building, it is divided into two symmetrical sections each accommodating 65, 72 and 84 m2 modules which, like the offices, can be combined to create larger spaces.
The road frontage
The 50 m arc of the roadside elevation is the key distinctive feature of the building, expressing our intention of creating a “green urban corner”.
The external facade is composed of a ‘green skin’ made from a steel grid where climbing plants grow that creates an uninterrupted screen over the entire length of the building, embracing the lateral elevations and connecting to the rear courtyard façade. This system is permeable to air and light so the walkways can be used as veritable outdoor spaces.
Immediately behind the planted screen the galleries are protected by a circular section steel handrail with steel support posts.
The office façade on the gallery side features an alternation of opal structural glazing (providing a source of natural light and also privacy, because the interior of the offices is shielded from view to those using the galleries) and sliding doors forming the entrances to the individual office units.
The internal courtyard façade
The internal elevation of the building has a more secluded feel with its view over the internal courtyard garden. The two façades set at right angles to each other and overlooking the garden will accommodate store windows on the ground floor while the remaining floors will be entirely glazed with sliding windows. All offices will have access to 1.5 m balconies overlooking the garden.
Balconies for each office are separated by means of partition panels, with the segregation further emphasised by the physical detachment of adjacent units. The all-round glazing of the attic floor with internal blinds forms the crowning feature of the entire building.
The lateral façades
The lateral elevations are clad with the same green skin system as the front façades, with no fenestration in the central area. On the ground floor, store front windows can be installed also on these sides of the building, which are clearly visible from the road.
The relatively small size of the building and its geometrical coherence made it possible to use a conventional vertical structural frame in reinforced concrete.