Text description provided by the architects. The building. The Cultural Centre is a flat, single-storey building. It is crossed by a covered pedestrian walkway which, as well as suggesting an alternative approach to passersby through the Centre’s services, leads to the train station underpass functioning as an important link in the urban road network. The building is divided into three distinct blocks arranged along the walkway, used by those going to the library and those on their way to the nearby underpass. The layout ensures that all the areas face onto the walkway. Following the underpass, on the right is the cafeteria/newspaper library; where the path widens it opens onto the library; it then leads to the play room, youth information centre and the multi-purpose area.
Materials, technologies, systems. The design made use of innovative technologies in order to improve the energy performance of the building. The choices made include high performance envelope components; natural ventilation systems; underground conduits for preheating the ventilation air in winter and its cooling in summer; solar thermal collectors using water for the production of domestic hot water; a photovoltaic system; a monitoring and control system to control the plant systems and the building systems. The exploitation of natural light contributes to energy saving through the use of a lighting system equipped to automatically control the light intensity depending on the intake of light.
Structure and infills. The building has a load-bearing structure comprised of reinforced concrete circular pillars and a roof with a double frame of glulam beams and wooden planking above. At foundation level there are a series of underground channels for the natural ventilation of the building. This network of primary channels is connected to a series of secondary channels of various sizes which distribute air to the outlets located in the rooms. The underground channels made of reinforced concrete also act as a support for the pre-stressed hollow-core floor elements. The infill walls are all constructed with pressed straw bales.
Green roof, reinforced earth dune, garden. An extensive non-walkable roof garden has been created on the roof. This choice allows high thermophysical performances as well as providing an effective contribution by reducing fine particles in the atmosphere and greenhouse gases. The garden of the library is delimited on the railway side by a dune made of reinforced earth 3.20 metres high, which has the twofold function of enclosing the outdoor reading area and protecting the indoor activities of the library from railway noise. The garden, which slopes from the reinforced earth down to the external wooden paving, was made using waste material from the excavations and planted with species that bloom at different times throughout the seasons.
Passive cooling. Passive cooling mainly focuses on the application of techniques for the natural ventilation of the rooms. The aim was to maximize the entry of natural air flows inside the building: the natural ventilation system is comprised of a wind tower and a system of solar chimneys arranged on the roof so as to serve the greatest number of rooms. The wind tower is a system for capturing air currents with openings at the top facing the prevailing winds. Taking advantage of the sea breezes, the tower directs the cool air to a field of underground channels. The cool air reaches the rooms from below while warmer air is extracted through the solar chimneys which open on the ceiling. The solar chimneys are cylindrical structures made of coloured sheet metal, fixed to the building’s load-bearing structure and equipped with shutters with an electrically controlled opening and closing system.