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Italcementi i.lab, Bergamo, Italy

By Damir Beciri
25 January 2013

italcementi-i-lab-1Italcementi, one of the top five cement manufacturers in the world, wanted to make a statement about their dedication to integrate Sustainable Development with their long-term growth plans and constructed new Italcementi i.lab in Bergamo, Italy. Prominently positioned at the eastern end of the Kilometro Rosso Scientific Technology Park in Bergamo, the new building has attained one of the first LEED Platinum certifications in Italy.

Designed by Richard Meier & Partners, the 23,000 square-meter (247,570 square-foot) building hosts engineers, technicians and researchers from the Research & Development and Laboratories Departments of CTG, the Group Technical Centre, and from Italcementi’s Innovation Direction, all engaged in investigating and developing innovative technological, functional and aesthetic solutions for new construction materials.

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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. Italcementi i.lab building is embodied in sculptural and dramatic, but simple forms which exhibit the possibilities of concrete in perfect balance with the technical purpose of the building.

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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 the central courtyard. 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.

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At the northeast corner of the building, which is also the terminating corner of the scientific park, a large covered public plaza forms the main entrance leading to a two story sky-lit atrium. The central atrium houses public reception as well as security control and provides circulation space for both of the structure’s wings via two glass elevators and a dramatic ramp.

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The cantilevered and floating concrete roof creates a strong and elegant profile. 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.

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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 enough energy to make this building nearly self-sufficient, meeting all of the building’s heating and cooling requirements.

There is one feature that we haven’t previously wrote about, and that is TX Active concrete – an innovative high-strength, white reinforced concrete developed by Italcementi. Devised specifically for Italcementi i.lab building, the white TX Active concrete reacts with ultraviolet rays and breaks down harmful pollutants and significantly decreases pollution caused by car emissions and industrial activities. TX Active concrete is self-cleaning and it always stays white.

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