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Same customers. Same architects. Same values. Twice the Practic.

Jessica Evans
25 Apr 2019

A manufacturer of solar shading systems, the Practic Spa is an industrial site where the architecture for production becomes a contribution to the landscape.

The buildings are related to the earth and the sky, with light and shadow. The productive and directional functions relate to the landscape without mimicry, and the spaces are designed with the aim of establishing a constant dialogue between inside and outside. The building thus becomes a comfortable and functional landmark.

The industrial building is in connected with the natural landscape through the design of open spaces and parking lots, defined by the embankments displayed along the roads, as well as the control of the views on the landscape in the spaces dedicated to relaxation and meeting. It also consists of an office building, a showroom, research and innovation laboratories, and spaces for production, painting, warehouses - and even a wellness area for employees.

There were two phases to build the headquarters, the first being in 2011, followed by the expansion in 2018.

Practic 1 - Offices and Production Complex (2011)

The complex is located next to the highway that leads from Udine to Spilimbergo, with the intervention composed by a parallelpiped volume with a surface of approximately 9,000 sqm. This houses the main productive core as well as a second volume of about 1,000 sqm which has been rotated to align with the highway. The area is the industrial zone of the town and is framed by the mountainscape, tying it to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

The production core is more vertically pronounced and characterised by a striated appearance, dominated by the alternating glazed surfaces and solid panels of various widths. The black marble stone and dark cement make up the finish on the panels enabling a diverse facade that comes to life with the interplay of sunlight, shadow and changing atmospheric conditions.

The volume housing the offices is 'a striking sign even to those driving by on the highway' and 'seeks to establish a dialogue between the concepts of stasis and movement. The office core on the south side is protected by a concrete beam of roughly 80 meters in length, which, on a larger scale, highlights the horizontal elements. Parallel to the ground, the beam extends beyond the building's perimeter, symbolising a confrontation between the landscape and itself. The reflection on it's glazed facade provides a "floating shape" that serves climatically by mediating temperature within the work spaces.

It is clear that the desire for simplicity is pervaded throughout the project through the interaction with the surroundings, such as the cultivated terrain that opens towards the southern and western fronts, allowing it to merge with the landscape. The two main buildings are situated over the semi-private garden that reconciles the production core with the administration, whilst the fluidity of the office core is interrupted by the nature of the space to create a more intimate relationship between both nature and man. The visual impact of the reserved area for vehicles is softened by its position within a circular perimeter that is slightly buried in respect to the highway.

Practic 2 - Production Complex Enlargement (2018)

A few years later, the Practic 'doubles'. Using the same architects, GEZA Gri e Zucchi Architetti associati, who still believe in the values of simplicity and efficiency, the enlargement was built in adherence to first lot. The rectangular building of roughly 9,000 sqm both 'completes and improves' the production department built in 2011. It is also similar to the previous building as it consists of offices, warehouses and a wellness area. Service and parking areas were also included in the rigorous design of the open spaces.

There are two simple elements to the new building: the rhythm of the windows and the reflecting skin. The windows repeat and declare continuity with the facade, whilst the skin 'dissolves the new volume in the sky'. The original lot, being black and grainy, gives the illusion of rising from the ground and setting the building in place, appearing "heavy and permanent". The second lot is black but reflective with iridescent to mirror the landscape and to light images that are constantly different due to weather changes. It is considered "light and changeable", giving the impression it is ready to dissolve into the sky. 10 meters high polycarbonate panels were customised and fixed to a concrete structure in order to achieve a reflecting facade when seen from afar. From the distance, the sky is reflected by the huge glass plates, yet, up close it looks "lighter". The mirroring panels ensures a continuous variation of colours - depending on the time of day and light intensity the building may appear black or golden, glossy or opaque.

The entire settlement keeps in the architectural design of the landscape and open spaces, demonstrating that industrial architecture is able to improve the quality of workplace.

"This is a great opportunity to rethink the relationship between architecture and nature, putting man back in the middle."

GEZA covers all fields of planning specialities and combines the development and management of special needs and budget planning. They offer consultancy services at different levels and apply for national and international competitions of architectural design. For more information, please click here.