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Landscape, Light, & Sustainable Energy: New Headquarters for Pratic by GEZA

In Fagagna, Northern Italy, the new headquarters and production for Pratic by GEZA architects Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi has been recently inaugurated.

The inauguration for the new headquarters and production complex of Pratic, a company owned by the Orioli brothers and specialized in the design and manufacture of curtain systems, has recently taken place in Fagagna a town located in the province of Udine, in Northern Italy.

The complex placed adjacent to the provincial highway that leads from Udine to Spilimbergo, was designed and built by GEZA (architects Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi). The intervention is composed principally of: a main volume, a parallelepiped with a surface of approximately 10,000 m2 that houses the main productive core; a second volume of about 1000 m2 placed adjacent to the first but rotated 15 degrees in order to align with the highway is dedicated to the offices; a parking lot for 100 cars; a loading dock and service area of approximately 2,700 m2; a garden space of about 33,000 m2. In addition spaces dedicated to communication, showrooms, break rooms and open communal and private areas are housed in the buildings in order to accommodate the daily activities of the workers. The complex, anchored in the industrial zone of the town, is also intimately tied to the surrounding agricultural landscape through different aspects of its design; thus ultimately forming part of the mountainscape characteristic of the region., GEZA's press release.

The project is infused with a strong desire for simplicity. The dry and elemental nature of the structure, the colors and even the interaction with the landscape are testament to this principle. Regardless of its dark and silent nature, the complex manages to become an icon for the passerby. The volume housing the offices becomes a striking sign even to those driving by on the highway, one that seeks to establish a dialogue between the concepts of stasis and movement. The production core’s more pronounced verticality is characterized by a striated façade dominated by alternating glazed surfaces and solid panels of diverse widths that are always ten meters in height. The differing dimensions of black marble stone and dark cement that make up the finish of the panels allow for a varied façade alive with the interplay of sunlight, shadow and changing atmospheric conditions.

The organization of the programs housed within the headquarters of Pratic tends to establish a non hierarchical rapport between the spaces and instead privileges a greater quality of integration between the built environments. Every function is instilled with a sense of clarity and rigor, from the loading dock area to the space planning of the offices. This simplicity can even be understood in terms of the project’s interaction with the surrounding context, which was carefully designed by GEZA through three gestures: the cultivated terrain, the garden and the patio. The cultivated terrain opens towards the southern and western fronts of the complex, merging it with the landscape. The two main buildings straddle the garden, a semi-private area that reconciles the production core with that of the administration. An oak tree, planted in the middle of a patio, defines the last natural element of the design. The materiality and nature of the space interrupts the fluidity of the office core, thus creating a more intimate relationship between nature and man. The patio enriches the interior spaces by acting as an extension of the surrounding landscape that overcomes the feeling of interiority of the offices. The crescent design of the parking lot also redefines the concept of landscape. The area reserved for vehicles is situated within a circular perimeter slightly buried in respect to the highway in order to buffer the visual impact this has on the project.

The design’s focus on landscape is also developed in terms of environmental sustainability. The production core’s roof is composed of a series of photovoltaic panels that cover a surface of approximately 2,300 m2 that generate a greater amount of energy than is necessary to run the building. Pratic, designed as a “classe A” (the equivalent of a LEED platinum) certified structure, is self-sufficient. The photovoltaic technology is usually hidden from sight by the architecture that holds the panels in place on the roof. Based on several studies regarding the general health of interior spaces and energy saving tactics, Pratic developed solar screens integrated into the architecture for the offices and the production core. In this context, the “floating shade”, besides defining the character of the building, is an element indispensable to climate control since it supports the filtering screens and modulates most of the direct sunlight the offices are subject to throughout the seasons.

Landscape, light, and sustainable energy are the key elements to understand the design for the headquarters of Pratic. It’s industrial architecture at its best. The complex manages to have an affinity to its surrounding environment, allowing the terrain, the sunlight, and the mountains to form both the background and foreground of its composition.

Architects: GEZA Gri e Zucchi Architetti Associati
Team: Stefania Anzil, Fabio Passon
Structural engineer: Nuttassociati
Mechanical engineer: Studio Bulfon Associati
Electrical engineer: Studio Battista
Contractor: Edildri costruzioni S.r.l.
External works: Slurry Italia srl
Prefabs: Spav Prefabbricati
Mechanical systems: Vaportemica Commerciale srl
Electrical systems: Elettrica Ducale snc

Building Program
Factory: 10.000 mq
Offices: 1.000 mq
Showroom: 550 mq
Loading docks: 2.700 mq
Parking: 120 spots
Landscape: 33.000 mq
Costs: 7.000.000 Euros

Newly Published Book

Fagagna (Udine), March 12, 2012 – In bookshops from March 2012, GEZA. PRATIC is a volume illustrating the new plant and headquarters of PRATIC, realized in recent months by the GEZA (architects Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi) in Fagagna, in the province of Udine. The volume, desired by the clients at PRATIC and published by Silvana Editoriale, physically depicts the building through the photographs taken by Fernando Guerra and offers readers a commentary by Mario Carpo, architectural historian and critic.

“The architecture interprets the need for environmental quality that Pratic has pursued for fifty years with the manufacture of blinds and awnings – we read in the introduction to the book. This quality runs through the headquarters manifesting in the relationship with the territory, in the definition of the external spaces, and in the internal spaces that Fernando Guerra observed and interpreted through his photographs. There is harmony between the production of Pratic and that of GEZA. It has to do with the high level of professionalism found as much in the company’s products as in the architects’ work.”

About Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi

Stefano Gri and Piero Zucchi founded the practice Geza -Gri e Zucchi Architetti Associati- in Udine in 1999. Stefano Gri (born in Udine in 1963) graduated as an Architect at IUAV, Venice, in 1988 and has been registered in the Roll of Architects of Udine (Italy) since 1990 and Piero Zucchi (born in Udine 1965) graduated as an architect at IUAV, Venice in 1992. He then studied at ETSA in Seville, Spain and attended a Masterclass with Rem Koolhaas at BIA in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1994.

Photography by Fernando Guerra

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