The sun, wind, and light of Brazil have given shape to a new Industry 4.0 project by Mario Cucinella near São Paolo. The complex will be the new Brazilian headquarters of Nice, an Italian multinational specializing in home and building automation and security. MC Architects adopted a holistic and sustainable approach to the project, taking it as far as creating an iconic roof in the shape of a tropical leaf. Based on an image of a leaf delicately gliding over the surrounding vegetation, the central part of the roof is supported by load-bearing columns. Located in the industrial district of Campinas, Limeira, the complex benefits from proximity to a natural water source and a small wooded area. By respecting the climatic and cultural conditions of the place, the project creates a harmony between inside and out. According to the works schedule, this cutting-edge, eco-sustainable complex, with a total floorspace of around 1215.3 thousand square feet (20,000 m2), will be completed by June 2022.
The most distinctive element of the structure is its roof, which creates a shaded area for the offices, showroom, and factory below. This is particularly important since the site’s location near the equator makes it subject to high solar elevation angles. To provide additional shading and protection for the glass façades during the middle of the day, the roof extends outwards from the façades, resulting in a reduction in annual incident radiation of 47%, while avoiding the risk of overheating.
These factors all reflect a design that continuously interacts with the surrounding landscape. And this has been achieved while reinterpreting elements of traditional Brazilian architecture and encouraging users to establish a symbiotic relationship between the built space and nature.
In designing the new headquarters for Nice, MC Architects studio set out to rethink the factory concept by establishing an ongoing dialogue between community and nature. The main entrance is a prime example. At the front of the building, the bright façade and entrance hall, as well as two floors of offices, common spaces, and training areas, all look out onto the main street. The rear section of the building houses the factory proper. Connected to the main atrium via a large window, however, it can still be seen by visitors. From this perspective, the project has created a kind of open factory. Also at the rear, a system of elevated pathways through the wooded area connects to an extension that will house employee services.
The new Nice headquarters was designed to take advantage of the local climate to reduce energy consumption. As a result, the building will be able to operate throughout the year without excessive carbon emissions and, therefore, play a part in the company’s objective of achieving reduced CO2 emission targets at a global level.The building passively interacts with local conditions, providing shade and allowing diffused light into all work spaces.
Through a combination of increased thermal mass and continuous natural ventilation, the factory is always in free-running mode (with no need for active cooling or heating), while the showroom and offices have a mixed system that encourages the use of natural ventilation, thereby reducing overall cooling loads. The complex also uses natural ventilation for two-thirds of the year thanks to façade modules that can be opened from within the offices and mechanical openings in the atrium terrace area that transform the space into a giant natural ventilation shaft.
“Sustainability is a foundational element of architecture,” says architect Mario Cucinella. “If we think about the past, we’ve always had a need for a relationship with earth and all its energies, such as the sun, wind, and light. The project re-establishes a symbiotic relationship between architecture and nature by interacting with the surrounding landscape, reinterpreting traditional Brazilian architectural elements, and encouraging users to take advantage of all its passive features.”
The project was conceived as a smart factory, inspired by the principles of Industry 4.0, with its design based on a new production approach centering on cutting-edge technologies. The result is improved working conditions, the creation of a sustainable business model, and increased productivity and product quality in the factory itself. The product of an investment of over 20 million euros, the factory will also be one of Nice’s international R&D centers.
The landscape design is a playful interpretation of the Cerrado biome, the second largest biome in Brazil, a vast savannah of grasslands and forests. Although deconstructed, it protects the existing groundwater source and the trees above it. The design not only adds to the biodiversity of the area, but also actively contributes to rainwater management by directing water to a large basin downhill from the site.
Location: Limeira, Brasil
Architects: Mario Cucinella Architects
Completion: in progress
Render by Mario Cucinella Architects, courtesy of MC A