Second skin

Location: Rome
Area: 425 Cbm
Client: Asset Management Company
Project time: 2020

Can a design of an emergency stair become the pretext for doing architecture? YES, if the staircase in question serves a building designed by the Architect Attilio Lapadula. YES, if the urban context of the intervention is a context full of historicity, such as the EUR district in Rome. The building stands on a high-quality urban context; this has allowed us to undertake throughout historical studies on the entire complex, to provide a smart and accurate design.

The building concerned by this design consists of seven above-ground floors, including the roof, and one basement used for car park. It has an "S" shaped planimetric development that winds between a relevant green area, facing the Palazzo dei Congressi by A. Libera, and the uncovered car park in Piazzale dell'Industria, near which the intervention will be carried out.
The construction of the emergency stair is aimed at ensuring the necessary safe outflow of the personnel from the building. It has a 6.90 x 7.50 MT rectangular layout and will be built with a central steel structure. The steel steps and landings, up to the sixth floor, will be assembled around it. The fire regulations provide that the side of the staircase facing the building is delimited by a REI wall up to a distance of 2.50 meters from it, to avoid that the flames or glass splinters may reach the people on the run.

In agreement with the Capitoline Superintendence, which protects the property, our intervention exactly began from this point onward: that is the need to design a "second skin", such as to shield the aforementioned REI protection wall from view.
Our design started from a careful study of the façade of the building, subjected to a percipient "interpretative" restoration in 2008. At that time, it was decided to accentuate the vertical rhythmic articulation of the façade by replacing the original light grey anodised aluminium window frames with charcoal grey ones, of latest generation. In this way, the white Roman travertine slabs stand out, alternated to the window frames along all the façades of the property.
The clear duotone obtained obliged us to establish the colour to be used for the second skin: the white Roman travertine to relate it to the travertine slabs present from the second to the sixth floor, or whether a smoothed basalt-lava stone cladding to obtain a chromatic continuity, with both the upper part of the building (2-6th floor) and the ground and first floor, mostly covered with darkened glass surfaces.
After having exceeded the safety distance from the façade of the building, we used a specific metal fabric for the cladding of the structure, resulting in a homogeneous surface that allows a glimpse of the ramp behind it, and ensure a correct ventilation of the areas. After dusk, the interior lights are filtered through the windows with an amber colour, the same that will be used to paint the internal surfaces of the stairwell so as to create a chromatic continuity also in the evening.

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