Milan-based architect Giuseppe Tortato and real-estate developer InvestiRE have unveiled a new corporate headquarters for Volkswagen Leasing and Bank that resulted from the renovation of an existing structure with a series of new interventions on the edge of the Gallaratese district, about seven km from the center of Milan.
This suburban area, as it appears today, is the result of the stratification of different expansion processes that took place in subsequent eras and has created a peripheral fabric that, although it doesn’t have a coherent design, presents some interesting features.
Currently the building has a gross surface area of about 20,000 square meters and extends over two below-ground floors, with storage and utility rooms, and six floors above ground used as laboratories and offices, as well as technical structures on the roof.
From the second floor to the fifth floor, the building consists of two distinct structures, which we will call North and South for convenience.
They are connected via a corridor with an external covering of aluminum panels.
On the ground floor and underground floors, the building appears as a single structure.
At street level, there is a small building used as a guardhouse.
On the ground floor, the entrances are above street level and can be accessed by steps on the guardhouse side and via the short access ramp to the parking area facing via Grosio.
The North and South structures are morphologically different, although both are characterized by the use of exposed reinforced concrete: the North structure has a regular, rectangular shape and the South structure a polygonal perimeter consisting of a central, longitudinal, rectangular part from which two symmetrical, inclined wings branch off at an angle of about 30 degrees with respect to the central body.
The two structures are characterized by a linear distribution of window frames, made of natural-colored anodized aluminum.
Along the South face, the windows are screened by rows of adjustable, vertical sunshades made of natural-colored anodized aluminum.
The North face clearly shows the linear row of windows, while the east and west faces are, for the most part, blind—finished in exposed, reinforced concrete.
The redevelopment project is described here on the basis of the two structures of which it is composed:
The South structure faces a green area and enjoys an ample view of the surrounding landscape and the new Milan Skyline, which the project aims to enhance.
The buildings in the area are characterized by facades with continuous ribbon windows, with a predominantly horizontal trend that is also reflected in the design of the new facade for the South structure.
The North structure is characterized by a regular building with a sloping pitched roof that originally housed an auditorium. This feature was the inspiration for the new covering of the South structure, which dialogues with the original shapes of the North one, reinterpreting them according to the new needs of contemporary workspaces.
The project, in order to be economically sustainable, envisages maintaining the existing load-bearing structure, demolishing the structure on the roof and the guardhouse, completely rethinking the facades to improve energy performance and create maximum comfort in the workspaces.
With this aim in mind, the extant adjustable sunshade louvers in both the North and South structures are removed (as the mechanisms are no longer functioning) and replaced with technical solutions adopted aimed at guaranteeing the maximum solar contribution in winter, a functional shielding system in the summer, and at the same time creating pleasant workspaces, making the most of the different orientations.
For the South structure, a system of new, full-height windows (from floor to ceiling) is envisaged, brought forward with respect to the existing line of the façade so that the pillars are inside the external shell and the horizontal trend of the building prevails, emphasized by the new, high-tech ribbon windows.
The bands, which envelop the main façade opening in the central part and closing towards the blind corners of the building, generate a sinuous line that embraces the building’s original perimeter, creating terraces and pockets at a height that will accommodate perennial green spaces for the building’s tenants and visitors to use and enjoy.
The goal was to obtain a pleasant environment, open to the outside.
A window system was envisaged for the North structure (in perforated, press-folded sheet metal so as not to obstruct the passage of light but to avoid glare), at full height but the shading (on the east and west sides) is obtained through the positioning of vertical slats that echo the original ones.
The same visual language is repeated for the new volume on the roof.
Finally, a new patio was created on the mezzanine floor, a genuine ‘light well’ with a useful radius of about six meters, for enhancing the amount of natural light.
The project involved a series of interventions on the facade in order to adapt the original structure of the building to the new needs of the working environments.
Natural light intelligently enters the building: by providing new screens on the facade and exploiting the solar contribution during the winter.
The energy performance of the building is improved and at the same time, the interior space becomes more pleasant.
The ribbon windows wrap around the façade, embracing the blind parts of the building, which become areas that provide genuine rest and relaxation for users, through the creation of small terrace green spaces.
The project involves the redevelopment of the facades of the North structure with the replacement of the existing vertical sunshade slats with a new system of vertical slats in burnished, perforated sheet metal, interrupted at the load-bearing elements of the roof and the corners of the building, highlighting the structures and the original composition of the design.
The new façade system is composed of a recessed glass skin, which allows for the creation of small loggias, featuring green elements.
Project: Volkswagen Leasing & Bank GmbH Headquarters
Architects: Giuseppe Tortato Architetti
Developer Architects: InvestiRE Sgr SpA
Landscape Architect: Valerio Cozzi
Client InvestiRE SGR – Fondo Immobilium
General Contractor: Italiana Costruzioni
Photographers: Moreno Maggi ph