Built after Giuseppe Marinoni’s design had won an international competition, the Learning Centre FLA (Lombardy Foundation for the Environment) at Seveso looks on the outside like a primary volume, divided up by vertical fissures and sectioned by the glass front: a wing of the square and proscenium opening onto the town. The rigorous elliptical layout of the plan is in fact a collage of irregular forms suited to a variety of uses: conference rooms, exhibition spaces, offices, a media library. The architectural conception exploits natural light as a means of creating mutable environmental qualities. The artificial lighting, on the other hand, draws attention to the spaces generated inside, visible outside at night as two-dimensional figures projected onto the glass screen of the façade.
On the outside the building presents the appearance of a primary elliptical volume, divided up by vertical fissures and sectioned by the sharp line of the glass front: a wing of the square and proscenium opening onto the town. The interior on the other hand is an assembly of irregular spaces reorganised into an elliptical shape. This principle of collage makes it possible to compose diverse spaces into a recognizable icon, making the complexity of the interior interact with the simplicity of the exterior.
Glazed fissures, resulting from the principle of aggregation, break up the monolithic volume, signalling the accesses from a distance and making it possible to see into the complex from the surroundings.
The articulated form expresses a twofold value: a landscape one, towards the garden on the Seveso River, where the curved volume faced with wooden planks presents the appearance of a pavilion; an urban one, facing the square, where the large glass wall punctuated by metal uprights delineates the front of a virtual building.
The mediation between institution and town is done by means of the pool of water that duplicates the front. A virtual ‘threshold’, this gives form and figure to the rituals of access.
The vertical and horizontal accumulation of different forms generates internal interspaces, revealed by the clefts that run through the unified elliptical shell from ground to sky. The stratification is laid bare by irregular staggering of the floors and accentuated by the different colours of glass that distinguish the storeys.
The fissures allow light to filter through in different ways over the course of the day, letting the levels interact functionally and visually and relating the uses to the different storeys.
On the ground floor, the Forum. A place open to the public and a flexible space in which to hold conferences, training activities, exhibitions and cultural and recreational events.
On the first floor, the Working Club. Work, team meetings, study and research interact here in spatial and visual contact.
On the second floor the Media Library and the Exhibition Space. The terrace-patio helps to generate an introverted and meditative setting, suited to concentration and absorption.
Staircase and services take the form of primary cylinders, built of expanded plate and clad with wooden planks, that pass through the different storeys from the basement that houses the lounge.
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