DESIGNING IN TEHERAN_ International architectural competition/BENETTON GROUP
Location: Teheran_Iran
Client: Benetton Group
Phase: First phase competition
Site area: 11.000 sqm
Programm: commercial, offices, storages, apartments, parking
Year: 2009
Architects: AquiliAlberg
Design team: Ergian Alberg, Laura Aquili, Alessio Pucci, Alexandros Franzolini, Christian Ronchi. In Persia, language has a powerful symbolic narrative function, that not only explains the power of charm, but also the typical, the recurrence of certain symbols which are dotted legend, poetry, textiles, the thumbnails until you arrive to architecture. Symbolism in Persian, with its repertoire of typical and recurring images, the flight between analog and fantastic image and meaning, seems to almost always be the work not of an individual but of an entire group, in a symbol that expresses their cultural identity, a collective religious sensitivity, under the penalty of continued foreign domination. Dance illuminated daily narrated thousand stories and the understanding of symbolic language is collective, popular. The language has come to Europe preserved, delicate casket, narrating symbol: symbols tell who traveled for millennia, on the scrolls of the books but also on damask fabrics and arabesques carpets. All spoke from town to town and all were included: a true story handed down a collective culture and millennial. The planning process that we pursued is rooted in this tradition, repeating a process already seen and tested in the historical monuments of the city of Tehran, where the two-dimensional symbol is evolving in a third-dimensional volume. After all what process could be better adapted to the new headquarters of Benetton if not the evolution of the texture of a fabric in a building, representative for the group itself? The theme of the contest is then interpreted through the inclusion of three new volumes that are identical to each other, rotated and merged into a single volume. The pattern chosen from a Persian fabric is used in its two-dimensional element as a basic skin coating or paving, to evolve and shape the morphology. The positive (the mass) and the negative parts of the texture (the opening) complementing each other, creating both, a solid volume and a trasparent volume which allows natural light to enter the space, enriching the internal space by creating a play between shadow and light. The dynamic pattern wraps the form at all levels of scale in a single rotating gesture, following the morphological evolution. Its upward momentum reveals the rotation as a design consequence for interacting with the whole city surrounding. The skin is a double skin technology designed to incorporate sun shading as small photovoltaic panels for the exploitation of solar energy, ensuring energy independence in part of the building. The outer casing adjusts and optimizes the thermal dispersion, defining a new physical body and merging several functions in one building. A showcase of the city, a thing intended to settle in ones mind and become its own image of the city. The ground floor allows the various accesses to divide the different functions. Large windows characterize the volumes of commercial spaces, connected by escalators the ground floor with the upper floors and with the lower storage areas. The plans for the offices are divided into several units and accessible from a single core that also incorporates the emergency exits. The top floor apartments, (as required by the notice), have been made flexible through the particular plan and the vertical structure, with the exception of the internal core. The particular plant has been designed to enable all areas to benefit from natural light and panoramic views. A split-level layout of the interior has the capacity to mutate and reconfigure repeatedly over time. The logic of "Open Space, and column free structure (thanks to the thickness of the floors and construction technology), provides a variety of different spatial configurations through a system of movable walls that will dialogue with the presence of discontinuous mesh that in turn assumes the role of, connector, separator, and part of furniture or a simple visual separation. An integral part of the project is the search of an identity between the form and the structure, obtained by the interweaving of the two, JUST LIKE A FABRIC.

Laura Aquili & Ergian Alberg, have worked in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Rome, London and Beijing for different internationally recognized offices: Zaha Hadid, OMA, UNStudio, ONL and Fuksas, where they have been responsible for different scale projects, from product design to architecture. In 2006 they founded in Milan the AquiliAlberg studio, where they work on architecture, design and graphics with an experimental and innovative approach, combining their multidisciplinary experience gained from abroad, with their background rooted in graphics and the arts. In 2006 they designed the new prestigious Christie’s auction house headquarters, new offices in Milan and the new layout for auctions of Milan and Rome. The side-table Vertigo, marks the beginning of the collaboration with Moroso in 2007. The studio completed in 2009 an housing project in Cremona and recently they have been the appointed architects for an ambitious touristic harbour in Jesolo. Also, 2009 saw their first installation and graphics project for the Triennale di Milano. The exhibition "The fragile city“, curated by sociologist Aldo Bonomi, was staged successfully in the prestigious location in Viale Alemagna. The first project in the fashion world marks the collaboration with designer Neil Barrett for which they have designed the backdrop of the fashion show in Milan, AW2010. Their clients include, Moroso, Corian, Serralunga, Ritzenhoff and Fiam. Provincia di Milano and Camera di Commercio awarded AquiliAlberg, "New Creative & Innovative Company 2008". They write about “Emotional, digital and technological cross-pollination between design, art and architecture” in their blog, “Des-art-chitecture”, for the NOVA100 on-line newspaper, powered by Il Sole 24 Ore. Work of AquiliAlberg has been published and exhibited worldwide. http://www.aquilialberg.com

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