The Franciacorta racing circuit in Castrezzato, in the Italian province of Brescia, was once a Mecca for car and motorcycle racing fans. Now that Porsche has acquired the area, it’s again set to become an international attraction for motorsport enthusiasts and lovers of the German marque.
Italy’s first Porsche Experience Center has been created here, a complex intended to offer the public an immersive experience in the world of Porsche motorcars. The Franciacorta PEC is the largest of the nine Experience Centers around the world, with the other centers in Silverstone, Atlanta, Leipzig, Le Mans, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hockenheim.
A special supplement with issue 138 of THE PLAN is dedicated to the Porsche Experience Center. It looks at the new masterplan and the project in general, with a focus on the Manni Group’s Isopan product range, used for the construction of the huge arched roof over the Customer Center.
The project, which was completed in 2021, involved the overhaul of the complex’s original masterplan with the repurposing the Customer Center and racing circuit areas. GBPA Architects was responsible for rethinking all the areas away from the circuits, namely, the visitor center, the landscaping, and the paddock, while Dromo redesigned the circuit area.
Inverting the hierarchies of the original design, the main entrance has been moved to the Customer Center, which has become a monumental gateway to the complex and a reference point for the entire area. Imposing and iconic, the Customer Center was created within the existing structure, with its 52 foot (16 m) high arches that span 180 feet (55 m). The building combines opaque and transparent surfaces, and is organized three-dimensionally around a large, full-height space dubbed the Agora, which forms the heart of the visitor center and the hub of all spatial hierarchies.
"When we designed the PEC, we wanted to put Porsche motorcars at centerstage as the absolute star of the show so that they can be seen and admired from any angle."
– GBPA Architects
All the other volumes are distributed around the Agora, connected by a system of ramps and dedicated elevators that make it possible to position cars on every level so that they can be a constant presence and a connecting thread running through the entire visitor experience. Occupying different staggered levels beneath the enormous arches are the Speedster Restaurant and Targa Café, a business center, a 200-seat conference facility, a simulation lab, a virtual driving space, a shop and fitting lounge, and a dedicated space showcasing all the customization options available for your new Porsche.
With each volume designed to be highly transparent, it’s possible to take everything in from the heart of the center, the Agora, which can be transformed as needed to host events thanks to its tiered seating.
The arched roof of the Customer Center was constructed using the existing load-bearing structure: large, shallow glulam arches spanning 180 feet (55 m) and with a maximum height of 52 feet (16 m). The removal of the first three arches, a distance 30 feet (9 m), made it possible to create a covered entrance space that acts as a filter between inside and out.
For the roof envelope, Tecnomont Service identified Isopan’s Isofrozen panels as the most suitable technology for meeting the demands of the project.
"Our technologies proved to be the best choice for overcoming the design challenges of the project – the only ones able to satisfy the specific demands of the works management team."
– Francesco Manni, Manni Group chairman
"The biggest challenge was to recover the existing glulam framing and adapt it, both technically and in terms of the design, to make it suitable for installing our products."
– Stefano Pan, Tecnomont Service project manager
For the roof, Isofrozen sandwich panels were used with Leaf technology, a system that reduces the thermal conductivity of the panel’s polyurethane foam core and improves energy performance. The pure white finish, RAL 9010, evokes the style of the Porsche marque while creating an intriguing alternating pattern with the transparent windows and sunshades, marked by different degrees of transparency, and an interplay of light and shade.
Location: Castrezzato, Brescia
Client: Porsche Italia
Project by: GBPA Architects | Arch. Antonio Gioli - Arch. federica De Leva
Paddock project: Dromo
Project Management: Arcadis Italia
General Contractor: Korus International
Structures: Tonelli Ingegneria
Façade and Roof: Tecnomont Service
MEP: Esa Engineering
Structures: Fa.Ma. Ingegneria
Lighting: Voltaire Lighting Design
Landscape: PN progetto Natura
Building Envelope Solutions: Isopan
Please refer to the individual images in the gallery to look through the photo credits