Sustainability, technological innovation and environmental quality: these are the key guidelines behind the new headquarters of Crédit Agricole Assurances insurance group designed by Lombardini22’s business units
Lombardini22’s integrated project has given a very contemporary and sustainable twist to the building shell in the Porta Romana district of Milan and redesigned its structures and interior spaces. The building, which covers 5,600 square metres, accommodates over 250 staff working at the Crédit Agricole Vita, Crédit Agricole Assicurazioni, Crédit Agricole Creditor Insurance and Stelvio Agenzia Assicurativa insurance companies.
The building, known as Vigentina9, is an innovative eco-sustainable smart-building boasting high standards in terms of energy efficiency, choice of materials and the ecological quality of its interiors, so that it has been awarded such prestigious recognition as LEED Platinum certification following building redevelopment upgrading the 1962 construction designed by the architect Enrico Bignoli and the engineer Franco Fasoli.
The renovation project was carried out by the Lombardini22 Group to upgrade the building in synch with its urban setting, improving the spatial layout and how the spaces are used, as well as its energy/seismic features.
The interiors were designed to guarantee flexibility and people’s well-being in line with the work methods adopted by the insurance group inspired by the principle of ‘work-life integration’ in a combination both in person and remote work. Modular spaces adaptable to different needs in terms of increasing staff numbers with multipurpose open-plan workstations that staff can book using a bespoke app.
Lombardini22 maintained the basic structure of the building in Corso di Porta Vigentina 9 designed by the architect Enrico Bignoli and engineer Franco Fasoli in 1962 and arranged for the interior to be safely demolished. The renovation upgraded the interiors and façade, adding fresh dynamism to the building while holding onto the original structural framework.
The project by L22 Urban & Building, Lombardini22’s business unit specialising in the architectural design of newly constructed or renovated buildings, was aimed at completely redeveloping the inside and outside of the building that was to continue to be used for offices, redesigning certain features on the building shells and the layout and use of the interiors.
While respecting the sensitivity of the location and more specifically a partial indirect constraint in relation to adjacent Santa Maria al Paradiso church, the plan was to fully regenerate the building more than 50 years after its original construction. The complete revamping of its outside image is designed to create an elevation that echoes the old silhouette revisited in a modern and sustainable key. This design opportunity made it possible to remodel the façade’s main features and give a more contemporary twist to the building. Scoring 85 points out of 110, the building was awarded LEED Platinum certification in accordance with the LEED BD+C for Core and Shell v4 protocol.
The building covering approximately 5,600 square metres consists of of a rectangular-shaped main section, which forms the building curtain along Corso di Porta Vigentina, and a section connected to the tower building at the rearthat accommodates the lift shafts/stairwells and technical rooms. The aim was to redesign the building shell while enhancing the energy ratings partly by decreasing the amount of direct sunlight hitting the glazed frames by modifying the three-dimensionality of the façade. This option adds fresh dynamism to the building in relation to the new glazed basement and crown. The northward rotation of the frames of the main façade focuses on the view towards Santa Maria del Paradiso church and the city centre through a sort of symbolic ‘bow’.
The main elevation along Corso di Porta Vigentina is characterised by a series of modules rotated in relation to the façade plane, each measuring approximately one and a half by three metres, which, multiplied along the entire length of the façade, echo the layout of the existing structure.
The façade module is divided into two surfaces: a glazed one rotated in the direction of the church, which, in this way, tends to protect itself naturally against direct sunlight, and an opaque surface composed of an insulated oxidised aluminium panel with a special bronze-coloured brushed finish.
The stringcourses, extruded in relation to the existing front, are clad in engineered stone with a tree-stump look, echoing and highlighting the positioning of the existing floors and containing any movement of the shell modules, which are recessed into the new façade line.
So, the project involved the complete renovation of the building shell, the construction of a new staircase, the renovation of the garage on the second basement floor, the bathroom blocks, the entrance lobby and the multifunctional space, and the demolition of the internal vertical partitions to leave the office floors partition-free in an open-space layout to be customised at a later date.
The mechanical and electrical systems were completely reconfigured and optimised, and the vertical distribution system was upgraded by installing new lifts in the existing shafts and modifying the system of stairways and emergency exits. The project also involved the structural part of the building with specific sections being knocked down to upgrade the interior spaces and improve the property from a seismic perspective.
Vigentina9 and BIM
For the Vigentina 9 project, the BIM design process had to be adaptable to various design scenarios and phases, while providing all the necessary documentation for being awarded the necessary permits and authorisations. The project team working with BIM Land, an across-the-board group focused on implementing the BIM method in Lombardini22’s different brands, developed a BIM design flow capable of responding in a coordinated and dynamic manner to changes required by the superintendent’s office, client and design process. The redevelopment project drew on a multidisciplinary team, which used the BIM process to assess and coordinate the operations required for being awarded LEED Platinum certification, all carried out in synergy with L22 Engineering & Sustainability, a brand of the Lombardini22 group.
At the beginning of the project, a specific survey was conducted including a Point Cloud analysis and rendering of the building survey and setting. The survey was carried out in Revit to set the limits and constraints. The project and scale models could then be designed with a complete and transparent understanding of the design limitations and options.
Data management was crucial from the very start. A co-ordinated scale model, database and customised workflow with keynotes in Revit enabled clear communication and co-ordination during all design phases to optimise time and costs during construction. This workflow and management process were particularly important given the number of different documents and miscellaneous input ranging from government building permits to cultural heritage monitoring.
From a sustainability perspective, Revit and Dynamo custom scripts enabled the team to calculate data quickly and accurately to hit the LEED Platinum target, including surrounding density, reduced building life cycle impact and minimum indoor air quality ratings.
An efficient workflow process allowed the team to overcome site limitations and planning constraints while adopting an interdisciplinary approach that implemented BIM-LEED procedures more effectively.
Work on office interiors boosted redevelopment operations carried out on the building and helped showcase its close proximity to Santa Maria al Paradiso church.
The premises were designed by DEGW based on fundamental guidelines shared with the client: sustainability, solidity, technological innovation, dynamism, transparency, recognisability.
The underground concept that unfolds throughout the various spaces is focused around the four elements: water with its fluidity and flexibility, earth meaning solidity and efficiency, fire and air – light and elegant –convey the very essence of these highly diverse and distinctive spaces.
The entrance, with its spectacular triple-height reception, is on level -1 where guests are welcomed into an elegantly furnished waiting area. On the lower level the auditorium and the hub-cafeteria are the most social part of the offices.
In the cafeteria with a tropical flavour, the canneté-effect counter made of wood with a Corian top surface is the main feature of the tropical-style coffee bar that has wooden, leather and fabric seating, colourful hanging lamps and luscious vegetation. The floor draws you into the conference space with its eye-catching starry sky-effect ceiling. The suspended ceiling and wooden panelling with light grooves guarantee excellent acoustics. These two levels are connected by a multifunctional space called the ‘arena’, a wooden staircase designed to be a place for relaxing and socialising. Strategically positioned benches on wheels face the staircase to provide extra seating.
From the reception area and the top of the arena one can see the glass wall enclosing the play area is visible from the reception area and top of the ‘arena’. It is fitted with a magnetic board for writing or draw on and furnished with iconic Italian design accessories.
The three business levels feature a wide variety of spaces and furnishing to promote socialising, cooperation and sharing between colleges and allow flexible working either in teams or independently. The open-plan spaces are marked by different types of amenities and meeting rooms such as thinktanks, spaces furnished with sofas and poufs for casual brainstorming, standard/project meetings, hubs with curved glass walls, colourful phone booths, Skype rooms with trapezoidal tables, one-tone sofas and stand-up meeting rooms.
The top-floor executive offices are elegantly furnished with decorative lamps making conscientious use of the spatial layout. There is also a large terrace with a pergola enjoying a privileged view of the church opposite.
Desaturated corporate colours run right through the entire project: including the sophisticated finishes and furnishing features– custom designs are freely combined with furnishing and accessories made by leading Italian design companies –, the materials and other features forming a harmonious and dynamic overall layout: a landscape of homely features and finishes of solid, enduring, contemporary quality.
The glass windows running right across the entire external façade guarantee excellent lighting to improve the working conditions and limit the use of artificial light. Other key features of the project are the focus on acoustics and lighting design, a speciality of the Atmos business unit.
Two lighting projects were drawn up. First the general lighting was designed, i.e. the general building project for the empty building with the regulations requiring the entire area to be uniformly lit. This was followed by the final design for the tenant focused on all the details, decorative lighting and comfortable working conditions for all the staff. Thelighting appliances chosen made it particularly easy to remodel the lighting. This can be replicated in the future, should Crédit Agricole Assurances need to reconfigure its spaces, without the need for technical support. Top-to-bottom lighting was selected for the outside facade. Finally, FUD, the Lombardini22 Group’s brand focused on physical branding, was responsible for the signage – intentionally soft and delicate –, the design of the films providing the necessary privacy for the glazed spaces and the choice (made in conjunction with the client’s staff) of names for the meeting rooms that allude to spices and plants.
Photography: Andrea Martiradonna
Client: Savills Investment
Architectural design: Management SGR S.p.A.
Interiors: Crédit Agricole Assurances
1. L22U&B: Paperwork, preliminary, final and executive architectural design, works management, CSE and CSP
2. L22E&S: Preliminary, final and executive plant-engineering, LEED certification, fire prevention
3. DEGW: Interior design, space planning, furnishing project
4. Atmos: Lighting, acoustics
5. FUD: Wayfinding, physical branding