SWISS NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY
Conversion of an old villa into an administrative building (renovation and extension).
Linearity and flexibility of use of the new built block.
We proposed to the client to realise one of the first examples of a building for non-residential use with low energy consumption.
Administrative building, building renovation and extension.
The existing villa is reborn 100 years later with a new function.
Two lives, two souls: the new black and polished building block acts as a mirror, disappearing at night and reflecting the image of the original bourgeois house.
Recovery of one of the rare pieces of the city before the Ticino financial boom. Spaces suitable for work in the 21st century.
Vertical distribution and individual offices in the existing villa, new block conceived as a single space without divisions or columns for maximum flexibility of use.
Traditional heat production and distribution, air conditioning (the proposal to build a low energy consumption building was not accepted by the client).
Technical raised floor that can be disassembled with a black resin coating scattered with silver flakes (prototype).
The whole project lives on duality: two are the eras of the building, reborn through renovation. With our intervention we wanted to maintain the existing building by expanding the old villa now decayed with a simple and linear volume, a rectangular parallelepiped, a black crystal.
The new complex has two physiognomies, two parallel lives: one during the day and the other at night.
During the night, the black crystal disappears, reflecting the image of the ancient villa that resumes its original physiognomy in homage to its first phase of life.
The exterior surface of the new wing is smooth, perfect; the interior is a flexible open space, perfectly adaptable to the changing needs of the 21st century.
The new volume is completely empty, without pillars or walls: the space is suitable for open-plan offices or can be divided as desired, thus ensuring maximum flexibility.
The building was initially designed to meet the Minergie standard.
The initial design envisaged that the black rectangle parallelepiped of the new building volume would be made entirely of glass. From the thermal simulations carried out for the different seasons, it emerged that the glass facade, despite the reinforced concrete floors, carried the risk of overheating in summer for the interior spaces, due to lack of mass and therefore insufficient thermal inertia.
We therefore modified the project by inserting a series of reinforced concrete elements along the entire perimeter of the new block for half of the perimeter surface. The cladding of the non-glazed parts of the new block was carried out with shiny black metal panels, which are interspersed with full-height glass bands to form a single black reflective block, so as to disappear completely in the darkness of the night.
We proposed to the insurance company the construction of a low energy consumption building, with the insertion of collectors and a photovoltaic plant integrated in the flat roof and elevations, to obtain an environmentally friendly building, with extremely low consumption.
Unfortunately, the customer was not willing to pay the necessary extra cost, even though it could be amortised over a fraction of the building's life cycle thanks to energy savings.
During construction, when the rough structure was completed, we received a request from the customer who had changed his mind and aligned himself with our thinking: he was finally convinced of the opportunity for ethical and image issues to build a low-energy building.
Unfortunately, the advanced state of the building site and the contracts already signed undermined the possibility of going back on our steps: we were no longer able to introduce the necessary changes and reluctantly we had to finish the building with traditional plant engineering technology.