World Building of the Week

Sidera | CIA Conad Headquarters

17. June 2024
Photo: Marcin Dworzyński
What were the circumstances of receiving this commission?

The process was a hybrid between receiving the commission and participating in a competition, as, before us, another studio had been tasked by the client to make a proposal which, however, was not deemed valid. Subsequently, we were asked to develop our own proposal for evaluation. We produced six of various types, ranging from three to thirteen floors. The eight-story option was chosen.

Photo: Marcin Dworzyński
What makes this project unique?

More than the project, we could say that the peculiarity lies in the design process, which was intensely prolonged even during construction. Our studio is known for small to medium-sized buildings and focuses on the execution details and exploring the evocative potential of spaces and materials. In this building, which can be considered “volumetrically large,” we did not shy away from dedicating a great deal of energy to achieve the same quality level as smaller and certainly less complex projects.

The study and design of the interior space was approached as an essential component in and of itself, and thus not viewed as a parallel project but something integral and necessary for the development of the building as a whole.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Indeed, the intention was clear from the very first steps, not to entrust the representativeness of the project to the exterior envelope of the building alone, but to ensure it was the skin of a more complex organism, expressed in a continuous progression of stimuli, and we were fortified by the conviction that the intelligence and creativity of those who work and produce are nourished in their endeavors by the curiosity and complexity of the building rather than the banality of a sterile and shapeless space.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli
What is the inspiration behind the design of the building?

The designer's “toolbox” is the world around them. In designing a building with this function, the commitment is to provide a formal response to the company's needs.

The building has a productive purpose and, in line with the brief, had to be organized according to a specific typology that replicated the old offices the company had occupied for the previous 40 years. This included a central corridor with single/double offices on both sides.

The formal response was to propose corridors much wider than necessary, each different from the other in terms of layout, materials, and colors. Each of these distribution paths offers a “square” with low seating where employees can interact during work breaks.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli

The six internal departments of CIA Conad had to be well separated from each other — no promiscuity. The answer lies in the non-barycentric position of the only central staircase, which manages to separate the departments without isolating them from the rest.

The answer to the great flexibility required resolved the main prospects through the insertion of sun-shading fins with a 70 cm pitch. This allows the internal partitions to be arranged as desired in the coming decades according to the company's needs.

The project was to be inserted into surroundings that offered neither ideas nor constraints, other than those related to the brief presented by the cooperative.

Photo: Marcin Dworzyński
How did the site impact the design?

The building is situated on the outskirts of the city of Forlì. The site is located in close proximity to the motorway exit and a few kilometers from the old town center, a highly strategic point but dominated only by a monotonous parade of prefabricated warehouses.

In a context that is devoid of identity and architectural value, the Sidera building was conceived to be a new element to add to its surroundings, like a sort of gift, a form of reparation to an area lacking in quality but one which can evidently become a better area, for the benefit of anyone who comes to make use of it (in particular, the employees of the cooperative). Even the decision to surround the headquarters with 300 trees and 22,000 plants is a response to the desire to neutralize the context in which it is built.

Photo: Marcin Dworzyński
To what extent did the owner, client, or future users of the building affect the design?

From a functional perspective, the client's ideas were very clear and precise, and this greatly influenced the project. As for the more formal and aesthetic choices, sharing our proposals with the company always yielded positive results.
The brief presented by the cooperative can be summarized in three points:

  • The building had to ensure maximum flexibility in the configuration of office spaces while avoiding an open-plan formula and guaranteeing exclusive work spaces for one or two people.
  • Each of the six departments into which the company is divided had to be housed on a single level.
  • The project had to include a 200-seat assembly hall and cafeteria space that could be converted into office space if required.
Photo: Pietro Savorelli

Therefore, from the outset, a conscious decision was made to avoid focusing too heavily on structural form per se in the initial designs, but rather to let the building reveal itself by adapting its lines to the functional and logistical needs imposed. The form that can be appreciated today is the result of a creative process that paradoxically absorbs the rationality and pragmatism of the cooperative, making the headquarters itself the primary representation of the company’s scientific rigor.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli
Were there any significant changes from initial design to completion?

Compared to the initial proposal, the project changed significantly. Before starting with the realization, the cooperative acquired two large distribution chains, and we were asked to expand the building by 30% to accommodate new employees. This called into question various aspects and decisions that had already been made and led to the decision to add an additional floor to those already planned.

Photo: Pietro Savorelli
How does the building relate to other projects in your office?

Research, meticulous attention to every detail, and aesthetic sensibility have always been our strengths, and these are reflected differently in each of our projects. This project represents the pinnacle of the initial three characteristics. We are constantly improving ourselves project after project.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

Photo: Marcin Dworzyński
Project: Sidera | CIA Conad Headquarters (2023)
Location: Forlì, Italy
Client: CIA Conad
Architecttissellistudioarchitetti, Cesena (IT)
  • Design Principal: Filippo Tisselli
  • Project Architect: Marcin Dworzynski
  • Project Manager: Cinzia Mondello
  • Collaborators: Giorgia Alessandrini, Massimiliano Urbini
Structural Engineer:  AEI progetti, Gabriele Casadio
MEP/FP Engineer: Idrotermica Coop, SBE
Landscape Architect: Paisa’ Architettura del Paesaggio
Lighting Designer: tissellistudioarchitetti
Interior Designer: tissellistudioarchitetti
Contractor: CMB Carpi
Construction Manager: tissellistudioarchitetti, B&V architetti
Site Area: 22,000 m2
Building Area: 4,360 m2
Exploded Axonometric (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)

Important Manufacturers / Products:

  • Facade: PONZIO
  • Floors: MARAZZI, GIANT
  • Custom Furniture: ESTEL
  • Roof: VMZINC
Site Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Parking Level Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Ground Floor Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
First Floor Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Third Floor Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Sixth Floor Plan (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Longitudinal Section (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)
Cross Section (Drawing: tissellistudioarchitetti)

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