The largest unit of the redevelopment project for the area along Via Manzoni regards the building with the largest surface area of the section as whole. Taking advantage of the particular location between Via Manzoni and Via Brodolini, the project envisages a building with two particular elements: a sharp and prominent point visible from a distance, serving as a landmark for the crossroads and establishing dialogue with the territory brought into communication by the road; and a broad, gentle curved side on Via Manzoni capable of evoking the more winding course it once followed, marked by the presence of a small and ancient bridge over the Pizzabrasa stream. These two features make up a particular façade of great impact and visual significance. Though constituting a territorial landmark of importance, with respect to the functions housed by the building, predominantly commercial together with large surfaces devoted to supporting services, the façade presented the defect of facing southwest and thus being fully exposed to the sun in the afternoon, thus posing a major problem for the public activities carried out inside.
The west side, in addition to bending in accordance with the former course of the road, is thus hollowed out and given a double skin. With a double arch originating in the southwest corner of the building, the façade opens up to increase its volume and thickness to such an extent that the windows are inserted into this thickness, not directly flush with the façade, and face north rather than west. The same windows design a continuous vertical cadence to accompany the eye in transit along Via Manzoni, its thickness being marked also by the continuation of the glazed surfaces at the top with the construction of skylights. The thick façade opens up to accommodate the points of access to the commercial surfaces, the importance of the entrance being indicated by its height, and folds to end in the point near the stream.
The other façades are more subdued in character, again with the repetition of the rhythm of thicknesses along the north side to accompany the building’s second public façade looking onto the environmentally restored and redeveloped areas by the stream. While the east and south façades are smooth and homogeneous, the east includes some service structures such as loading and unloading areas. Environmentalminimization along this side, close to the surviving areas of woodland, includes the construction of a green dune with a canopy for growing plant species. It was decided to conceal the parking spaces. Precisely in order to increase the territorial revaluation of the area, these are housed in two underground storeys, whose construction presented no few challenges with respect to the overall building system of the area.
Here the watery terrain of the lower Po Valley presents layers of sand and mud with clay only at the bottom. A complex system of bulkheads, 82 ft in depth, made it possible to create a cavity of about 14,400 yd2 to house the twostorey car park with a foundation slab about 3,28 ft in thickness to counter the considerable thrust of the water table. The building is constructed in accordance with the class A energy standards through the use of particular devices to insulate the façades and the installation of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, concealed by the taller top of the façade, as well as systems to harness geothermal energy with the construction of heat pumps and shafts. This complex edifice performs the various roles derived from its location and genesis, and expresses them through the dynamic handling of volume and the composition of the façades.