The building is part of one of the oldest and best-preserved industrial villages in northern Italy, located close to the Borghi family’s textile factory in Varano (VA). It was built by them in the first half of the 1800s and enlarged and modernized several times until the early years of the 1900.
A local textile company has been recently occupying the village, transferring there some production departments, warehouses and part of the administration.
The project concerns the renovation and refurbishment of the last building acquired by the company with the purpose to create new offices and a warehouse on the ground floor.
All the three levels of the building feature a single large rectangular room, marked by spans of cast iron columns, iron beams and brick vaults.
While planning efficient spaces for the new functions, the renovation has been as conservative as possible and aimed at enhancing the valuable existing elements, in many cases contaminated or concealed by interventions over the years.
The main challenge was to satisfy the client’s requirements while keeping the structure unchanged and the perception of the spaces’ entirety unaltered, an element of great charm in our opinion. In order to create smaller rooms without distorting the space’s peculiarity, we have used glass- cement, a material typical of the industrial tradition reinterpreted in a more refined and contemporary way.
The partitions are set in natural iron frames that wind through the space according to a scheme that adopts cast iron columns as fulcrums but without ever coming into contact with them, leaving them free. In addition to this, the height of the partitions is about 1/3 lower than the ceilings and this allows to see them always in their entirety, so that the space is always perceived as a continuum. The glass bricks are enhanced and ennobled by very thin joints (2mm against the 10 traditional ones) grouted in anthracite colour to bind chromatically to the iron frames and the MDF pivot doors.
The glass-cement ensures autonomy and privacy to each new room, brings lights and colours into the whole space through unpredictable games of reflections and refractions, producing a somewhat magical effect in every light condition.
Another long and delicate phase of the project was the selection of furniture: all the pieces have been recovered from warehouses of bankrupted factories around the province, and have been restored and carefully placed inside the new spaces, giving new life to the building but not only!