The point of departure for the design of the Barilla Research Centre is quite simple:
– to achieve maximum flexibility of space
– to search for transparency and lightness, both internally and externally.
In order to achieve maximum flexibility, the distinction between served and serving spaces is deliberately visible and even celebrated. Within a rectangular shape of 140m of length, 30m of depth and 16.5 m of height the Barilla Reseacrh Centre blends two spatial categories:
– 5 generous halls at the centre of the building of approximately 24x22x15m
– a 4-storey ring of distribution running along the perimeter of the building
The project is made up of interlinked spaces with changing degrees of privacy and publicity, different characters, different degrees of opening and climatic conditions, organized and unified by a continuous ring of distribution and common services allocated into external autonomous volumes. Whereas these elements are extremely pragmatic, their visual presence as well as their organization is free and imaginative, allowing the neutral spaces of the central halls to be layered-out and combined in various ways to nurture an ensemble of rich, varied scenarios.
The deep floor plan, combined with peripheral distribution, is essential to this idea, since it challenges the hierarchy of “core–corridor-room-view” of traditional buildings.
The main distribution of the project is organized along the perimeter of the building as a continuous winter-garden. This circulation system is not conceived purely as an access zone, but rather as a place of encounters, informal discussions and spontaneous contacts. The concept of the winter-garden added around the whole building as a thick double façade forms the infrastructural back bone of the building and fulfils a series of different functions while simultaneously defining the image of the building.
The Barilla Research Centre doesn’t try to become specific in the sense of giving a definitive identity to the different spaces listed by the brief. The aim is to look to what extent the “generic” can be stretched by simply varying some essential parameters: depth, height, temperature, opacity and accessibility in order to achieve extra-ordinary results. The main ambition of the project is to offer an open system in which an informal aggregation of spaces and uses – likely varying from intimate to collective – can occur. The Barilla Pavilion fulfils multiple, unexpected fictions within a rational, compact three-dimensional form.
Louis De Belle