A 111m-high spire marks this 32,000m² mall on the outskirts of Turin by London practice Claudio Silvestrin Architects
Silvestrin – whose previous clients include Kanye West, Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein and Anish Kapoor – designed the spire to be ’a modern structure that is at the same time classical in its configurations and proportions’.
The mall itself is 290 metres long with green roofs, six metre-high canopies and water-basins set in its exterior walkways, which are lined with trees. The building sits adjacent to the Turin-Milan motorway, set in sloped landscaping designed to mature, so the façade becomes hidden behind trees.
The walkways are laid with Santafiore sandstone flooring, with all façades and partition walls finished in earth-coloured lime plaster, while the spire is a steel structure, panelled with 1.5 to 3cm thick metal sheets.
Heating is supplied by teleheating units to lower energy consumption and environmental impact. Waste heat is recycled from a nearby electrical plant, with solar panels providing 50 per cent of hot water to the food and drink areas.
Internally, air temperature and humidity are conditioned through a centralised ‘water ring’ and heat pump system, which generates temperature-controlled water through a heating plant in winter and open circuit cooling towers over the rest of the year. Water is supplied to individual units through this ‘water ring’ network to which the air conditioning heat pump units are linked, with zero-net energy consumption in spring and autumn.
I began by imagining a long horizontal line, drawn in pencil, running parallel to the ground; a sign that extends for almost 300m and represents a modern structure that is at the same time classical in its configurations and proportions.
For the cladding I selected two natural earth-coloured materials, sandstone and lime plaster: a compact granite sandstone formed 15 million years ago in the region between Lazio and Tuscany, and a lime plaster rigorously free from plastic-based colourings and applied using a technique dating back to 1600, which gives the building its velvety and uneven skin. The stone and plaster, being completely natural, also change in colour tones depending on the sunlight and the changing seasons.
The promenade, characterised by an arcade design that seems to stretch into infinity, is traversed by a regular rhythm of trees – an incentive to be out in the open and not to be removed from nature.
It is understated architecture, with parking areas for example that are partially concealed by a new green hill. The ultimate protagonist is the visitor, not the building. In this simple and solid architecture, without frills or ornaments, with a clarity of form, perspective and direction that creates a sense of calm, the visitor is encouraged into spending more time and making a purchase. Above all, there is an incentive to return because, in unluogodi qualita (a place of quality), you experience a sense of ease and comfort; you feel valued. The spatial quality is, I believe, unprecedented in fashion mall design.
To communicate the location of the project through an architectural element was the real challenge. As an alternative to skyscrapers, glass-and-concrete towers or other such mega-structures that so frequently mark and disturb contemporary urban landscapes, I created a symbolic, vertical element, apparently devoid of any function. It was my intention that the long building facade should be partly covered by trees. From behind this a spire measuring 111m rises up to become a bridge-metaphor between the earth and sky. Visible by day and night, when it is lit up, it seems to pierce the sky, but at the same time it is inviting the visitor, and signalling the position of the building on the horizon, as church bell towers did in the past.
It is not a traditional spire however. It has an unexpected geometry, like a prism, designed to show the play of light and shadows. It is open, like a door that has been left ajar. It is tempting, and you want to cross it as you would a medieval drawbridge, to enter into a structure that is calm and protective.
01 tov drawings plan
Source: Claudio Silvestrin Architects
Start on site August 2015
Completion March 2017
Architect Claudio Silvestrin Architects
Client Gruppo Stilo Torino Fashion Village
Municipal project consultant Studio De8 Associati Artecna
Site development consultant Artecna – Sertec
Landscape design Laura Dal Canto with Luisa Perona and Cristina Gragnolati
Engineer BMS Progetti
Project management Cogestil