Imperfect and vibrant: a meeting of landscapes in industrial architecture

Located between the basin of a large drained lake and Monte Serra, the project area is near the beginning of the urban perimeter, along the road which leads from Altopascio to the historic centre of Bientina. An existing commercial complex is being renovated and expanded by Ricardo Butini Architect to serve as the site of the new executive and production headquarters of Vibrotech s.r.l.

The plan layout includes three functional blocks – offices, workshop and warehouse – sequentially placed along the main road system. The workshop and warehouse, built with precast reinforced concrete structure and infill, are undergoing a renovation intervention aimed at adapting them to the newly arising production needs.

In the case of the offices, the old building was completely demolished and replaced with a new structure which includes an increase in area and volume for meeting with the new functional requirements. A parallelepiped, 50x10x10m, arranged on two levels, accommodates the planned functions: the ground floor, in addition to the lobby/reception, houses meeting rooms, a lunchroom and locker rooms; while the executive and operational offices, the main meeting room and a small coffee shop are located on the second floor.

The new building expands and rises to cover the outline of the ‘factory’, thus redefining the hierarchical order between the parts of the architectural organism and strengthening the connection with the street. The new construction, which is detached a few meters from the existing body, allows for the introduction of a small courtyard and of windows on the interior facade so as to let natural light into the distributive and entrance spaces on the ground floor. Two small linear volumes link the buildings, enabling a connection with the production space.

The facades, with a few exceptions, feature alternating sequences of rectangular windows set in a pattern with a regular rhythm. The loggia which houses the representative meeting room, from which the gaze can stretch out over the nearby hills and villages, has been carved out of one of the facades. On the main facade, which is oriented toward the village, a window of different shape and size seeks the unmistakable outline of an ancient tower.

The volumetric layout of the new building is notched on the main facade by a large window that frames the still intact agricultural landscape and projects outward the spatial structure of the staircase which, in plan and section, is an element of both rupture and connection, contained between partitions and volumes that gradually reveal its fluid, albeit controlled spatial nature. The reinforced load-bearing block structure is clad with a ventilated wall in weathering steel, made of large slabs reaching as high as 6 m, which is interrupted in some sections, revealing the plaster finish. The metal cladding,which is subjected to a natural aging process, creates an imperfect and vibrant surface where the agricultural and industrial landscapes meet.


Project: Uffici e fabbrica
Design: Ricardo Butini Architetto
Location: Bientina – Italia
Year: 2022
Photographer: Marcello Mariana