A tapered concrete roof oversails glazed laboratories at this research and innovation centre that American firm Richard Meier & Partners has completed for Italian cement manufacturer Italcementi.
Located in Bergamo, northern Italy, the Italcementi i.lab provides a facility where the company can research sustainable concrete and cement technologies and the building was constructed using a bespoke white concrete that is designed to break down pollutants in the air.
"The white concrete is self-cleaning and therefore will always be white," said Richard Meier, as he explained how the concrete was initially developed for a church the studio designed in Rome. "The church was initially designed to be poured-in-place white concrete, but in conjunction with Italcementi we concluded that 12 ton white pre-cast concrete panels would be a better way to execute the design."
The architects designed a V-shaped building with its two wings folding around a triangular courtyard garden. Laboratories are located in one wing, while the other contains meeting areas and a double-height lecture hall with a boardroom cantilevered overhead.
Glass partitions and skylights allow natural light to permeate the building, while sunken courtyards bring light into the basement laboratories.
The building was also designed to be as self-sufficient as possible and generates its own energy for heating and cooling from photovoltaic and solar panels, as well as from geothermal walls. The glazed facades feature insulated glass to hold in the heat, while rainwater collection systems minimise water consumption.
Above: section diagram - click above for larger image
Meier concluded: "With Italcementi, we have worked together to create a new office and research building for the twenty-first century - a landmark that upholds and builds upon the country’s architectural tradition. The Italcementi i.lab reinforces our firm’s commitment to accessible, open and sustainable architecture."
Above: site plan - click above for larger image
New York and Los Angeles firm Richard Meier & Partners has been in practice for 50 years. Recent projects include a Corian-clad members' club in China and a 34-storey tower in Mexico City. See more architecture by Richard Meier & Partners.
Here's some more information from the architects:
Richard Meier & Partners completes the Italcementi i.lab in Italy
Richard Meier & Partners celebrates the opening of the Italcementi i.lab in Bergamo, Italy. The new building is a benchmark of sustainable design in Europe and it has attained one of the first LEED Platinum accreditations in Italy.
Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image
Italcementi i.lab, the new research and development center for Italcementi is intended to reflect the company's position of leadership, technological advancement and commitment to research and innovation in the use of concrete.
Prominently positioned at the eastern end of the Kilometro Rosso Scientific Technology Park in Bergamo, Italy, the Italcementi i.lab is a benchmark in sustainable design in Europe. One of the top five cement manufacturers in the world, Italcementi is internationally recognized for its dedication to integrating Sustainable Development with its long-term growth plans.
Above: upper floor plan - click above for larger image
Each element of the building's organization reflects an ambitious effort, both in Richard Meier & Partners focus on sustainable architecture and in the innovative use of efficient materials and construction solutions. One of the first projects in Europe with LEED Platinum accreditation, the building addresses the LEED rating system including sustainable sites, water efficiency, design and innovation, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The v-shaped building reinforces the boundaries of the triangular site and incorporates a program of technical and administrative spaces into two wings that surround a central courtyard. The interior organization of the laboratory wing responds to the highly specific functional requirements of the program. A simple structural grid and a central circulation corridor allow efficient and flexible layouts for various sectors. The south wing houses conference rooms, a two-story multipurpose hall and a sky-lit board room that cantilevers over the second floor. Additional below-grade courtyards provide fresh air and natural light to basement-level laboratory and mechanical spaces.
The roof of the structure forms a virtual fifth façade perforated with a system of skylights directing natural light into offices, circulation corridors, and laboratory spaces and animate the interiors with the changing natural light.
Above: east elevation - click above for larger image
The implementation of an innovative high-strength, white reinforced concrete developed by Italcementi specifically for this structure will significantly abate pollution caused by car emissions and industrial activities. The white TX Active® concrete reacts with ultraviolet rays breaking down harmful pollutants. In line with the firm's continual efforts to address issues of energy conservation and environmental performance, the building uses high-performance custom facades, low-e insulated clear glass, and incorporates geothermal and renewable solar energy systems. Photovoltaic panels, solar panels and geothermal wells provide close to total energy self-sufficiency, meeting all of the building's heating and cooling requirements.
Design Principals: Richard Meier, Dukho Yeon
Project Architects: Vivian Lee, Simone Ferracina
Collaborators: Roberto Mancinelli, Dongkyu Lee, Amalia Rusconi-Clerici, Robert Kim, Cedric M. Cornu, Wen-Yu Tu, Guillermo Murcia, Luca Aliverti, Tetsuhito Abe,
Sign up for a daily roundup
of all our stories