The earthquake that struck the region of Emilia Romagna in 2012 is evoked symbolically in the renovated Cardiac Surgery Business Unit premises of the Sorin Group, a global leader in the production of medical devices for treating cardiopulmonary disease. Despite the extensive damage caused by the earthquake, the decision was taken not to demolish the building. The alternative, a complex process of consolidation and restyling, required a number of innovative solutions, such as the introduction of a seismic isolation system.
An ambitious project that was turned around in record time: from the development of the initial concept to the conclusion of work and the return of the building, ready to resume production, the whole process was completed in the space of a single year.
The architectural design takes its lead from the structural intervention: a window that runs around the perimeter slices the building open along its length, while a solid ribbon wraps around the underlying, transparent volume, emphasising the sense of suspension without undermining the physicality of the new structure.
Visually, the architecture expresses itself in the rhythm of solids and voids, harnessing the material contrast of the alternating strips of glazing and laminate panels that wind around the perimeter up to the roof, incorporating the stairway structure and pre-existing irregularities as they climb. As the light strikes the different surfaces, it creates a series of dynamic, shifting aspects, although the visual language retains a sense of rationality throughout, an effective reflection of the image and identity of the company itself.
The industrial nature of the construction process and the associations generated by the materials of the exterior are reinforced consistently in the design of the interior, where spacious open-plan environments alternate with modular office spaces, and monochrome expanses of marble, wood and glass are punctuated by brightly coloured furniture and flooring.
Remarkable turnaround times for an innovative project involving a dynamic decoupling of the upper structure from the semi-basement level, which is achieved through the use of a sliding, inverse double pendulum devices for seismic isolation.
One interesting outcome is the solution adopted for the external emergency staircase, which is anchored to the existing building in such a way that it fits with the overall design and contributes to the dynamic, unitary effect.
The structure is based on a line of four pillars, which join to a foundational strip supported directly by the system of sliding isolation devices. These pillars provide support for the cantilevered beams at the top of the structure from which the secondary order of ramps that punctuate the outline of the north-facing section of the building are suspended.