The design of the new headquarters of BNL is part of a particular and unique context. Unique because the nature of the context is a layering of infrastructures that are separated by two important urban areas of the city of Rome, thanks to the construction of the station for high-speed rail, which leads to a new role, not only in terms of services service but also as “urban place”. Particular because the area where the new building will stand, due to its geometric shape and topography and its relative orientation, suggests to design the building according to the principle of “Janus”. We consider it important that the new building develops a dialogue with the adjacent complex of Tiburtina railway station, with its main features characterized by size and horizontality. The dialogue does not necessarily have to be direct, but should have references both to perspectives and to the different levels of the station, and also a different role (the horizontal stratification) in the new urban landscape.
Our goal is to meet the functional needs with a building that is capable, in its autonomy and identity, to belong to the urban context of the Tiburtina Station and at the same time to be representative both for the city of Rome and for its users.
From these considerations, a proposal is made for a building that is able to relate differently to the north-west with the district Pietralata and south-east with the Tiburtina Station complex. Dynamic, reflective and fading, where its perception is mainly dynamic and different meter after meter (from the train, from the station, from the different areas of the city), almost as if it was moving, comparatively, where the contect is urban or “slow”, facing North, the perception is static transparent and material. The building thus assumes different roles leading our imagination to important works of contemporary artists and filmmakers who have treated the themes of perception and "reflection" of reality.
Light and sky
Futurism and affirmation of the present. Perceptive device and new urban tale.
A place, pilling-up of infrastructural lines and urban episodes loaded of imaginary. The journey, the history, the water tank, the intimacy, the Verano cemetery, the unfinished metamorphosis, the high-speed train station.
Various speed layered in an apparent order without creating dynamic motions, possible futures, imagined futurisms.
Places of hinges, joints and fragments, empty and full spaces at the same time.
Inside a device which superimposes the travel time from the territory crossed to the city-center of Rome, outside an urban time, made of textures, rhythms, sequences, scenes, able to translate the daily life in a journey that is both urban, personal, intimate and collective.
Where does it begin and where does it end? When did it begin and when did it end? Nowadays, in the contemporary city, in the contemporary society, how many and what kind of journeys do we do each day? Are we transported from one place to another or are we traveling to reach and really
live a place? The journey must retain a dimension linked to both the reality and the imaginary, to the setting in scene of the reality, and the oportunity to give a listen and voice to our own imagination.
Real and imaginary
Light and sky. Sky and light. Not an ordinary light or a common sky. Rome and its light. Rome and its sky. It is in our imagination whenever we encounter the founding city. It is in the reality of those who live the city in the flowing of the days, weeks and months that mark the variable perceptions between the light and its urban matter. A vertical sky. A serrated wave. A set of captured clouds in brief moments by our eyes on that set of waves, in that "vertical sky." Never the same for each of us, at any time of day, any day of the week, any week of the year.
Territory becomes architecture, architecture becomes matter. The matter becomes soul, it marks the belonging.
An office building. The headquarters of an international bank. A monofunctional, private, dense complex... can it be in charge of responding to a place, a time, its speed, its real and a possible imaginary?
The building has the task of doing it because it belongs to that place, to that light, to those realities.
It must be pragmatic and responsible, bring a generous vision for the future. It must be able to dialog with the existing context while being integrated in the present: a sentimental futurism, a feeling of a possible future thanks to an impossible challenge.
Rejecting mimesis and cynicism, detachment and hypocrisy, postponements and deferments. Be guided by a dream, to stage the Roman sky and its light as a tool for dialog with the people, with the city, with history, with matter, with the client, with technology, with the "journey".
Two hundred thirty five meters of length, fifty meters of height, twelve floors above ground and four basement floors, seventy-five thousand square meters built, thirty-nine thousand square meters of floors for offices, cafeteria, canteen, auditorium... thirty thousand square meters of glass and ceramics facades, fifty-three administrative procedures for obtaining permission to build, twenty-four months of design, thirty-six months of construction, eighty-three million euro, three thousand three hundred people who will work into the building from 2017.
Dream and reality
A building that varies its founding thickness of eighteen meters, rarefying in the encounter with the punctuation of the existing water tank and the Termini station system of the architect Angiolo Mazzoni (1894 – 1974) to regain some thickness and gradually decrease it to four meters; a building changing from a thickness to a sail, from a mass that rests on the ground to a body that hovers in the air, from an horizontal volume to a vertical blade; a building finding its body only in its shadow that variably reveals its size.
Sail shape on south, double headed body shape on north. The building is doubled when it comes in contact with the train station, but its doubling is actually a triplicating process because the interstitial space becomes an opportunity to rotate the longitudinal path of ninety degrees on splitted-levels, inventing a suspended place between two bodies and a ceramic, diamond shaped skin (Snake tiles) designed to bring on a changing way, from morning to evening, the light up to fifty meters depth: this is the measure of the fault between the two volumes.
The apparent simplicity of the front that communicates with the rail road tracks park, the urban landscape and the sky of Rome contrast, accompanied gradually by the variable geometry of the window waves and pass the baton to a constructivist landscape of compressions and expansions, airlift and cascade of stairs that climbs to conquer the sky posing its claws on the "snake" ceramic skin. All that is alternation of semi-transparencies, reflections to the southwest becomes matter and pure transparency to the northeast, where gradually the snake's skin covers and nails the volume, its relationship becomes more urban and less territorial.
Futurism and constructivism
The real and imaginary architecture, a futuristic thought and a constructivist practice: it enacts the imaginary (the light) and the real (the life). It seeks the dialogue through its becoming body, affirms its apparency through its suspended soul between feeling, art and realism. A project, a story to find again essential journey companions.