The building?s most interesting feature is its skin: an unusual construction made of sails that come together and overlap on an aluminium frame. Simple and carefully chosen materials come together in the spirit of the Prada group, the architect?s client in the project.
The 3 level building reveals a strong personality, the result of specific choices of form and design and use of particular technological solutions.The ground floor measures more than 2000 square metres, containing the workshop and storage area for masts and sails, with a vertical column running the full height of the building for washing sails.
The other two floors are for offices (on the first floor) with dining areas, accommodations and a gym for the team (on the second floor).
A terrace at the top of the building offers a panoramic view of the docks.
The building had to be particularly strong and resistant to wind and water, just as sails are, in view of its particular use and its location so close to the sea.The facade was made out of panels preassembled on the worksite and erected in forty working days. To improve its technical performance, and particularly its rigidity, the cladding was reinforced with polycarbonate panels; special seals were used to keep out wind and water.
The result is a true patchwork, a collage of sails used on the Luna Rossa in recent years, cut up and reassembled on a series of frames to create the walls. There are 485 panels in all; 50 sails were used in their construction: 12 spankers and 38 genoa sails, covering a total external surface area of 3100 square metres.
The building is highly evocative at night, when the opaqueness of the facade is dispelled as lighting inside the building makes its structure visible from the outside. By day the transparency of kevlar fibre lets daylight into the building.
When Renzo Piano visited the Luna Rossa base in February, he wrote a phrase in Genoese dialect on an outer wall, next to the hangars: "chi nu se straggia ninte!" meaning "nothing is wasted here", explaining the reuse of sails as backdrops and walls in this highly evocative patchwork.
Laura Della Badia
photos: from photos by Carlo Borlenghi and Enrico Cano; Metra press office