Research Centre in Ispra, Italy

As part of a large-scale rehabilitation scheme, this former nuclear research institution was redeveloped as a general European research centre. Attempts were made to find an architectural language that would unite the disparate elements and symbolize the new use. The brief also required the reduction of heating and cooling costs, mainly in the area of the canteen. The entire complex of buildings was drawn together beneath a single large roof 4,700 m2 in area, which is structured by a regular grid and interrupted by an irregular arrangement of openings. The openings allow trees to grow out through the roof and also provide a natural means of daylighting and ventilation. The main structure consists of a framework of Å-beams supported by cylindrical steel col-umns. Timber louvres, fixed at an angle of 45° between the beams, serve mainly to filter the intensity of the solar radiation. The degree of brightness was increased simply by setting the louvres at a different angle (e.g. over the entrance). Opening flaps in the newly designed façades, in conjunction with roof lights that are constructed in part as ventilation stacks with sensor-operated louvres, provide a natural system of air circulation. The two angles at which the roof lights are inclined were calculated to take account of the angles of incidence of the sun in summer and in winter. Reflecting sheets of perspex inside the inclined roof lights ensure that sunlight is widely diffused in the internal spaces.
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