Onward Luxury Group
Venezia 2012

The design of the IRIS Onward Luxury Group shoe factory, presented at the 13th International Architecture Biennial of Venice, has been inspired by the idea of designing a building that is prefabricated but at the same time custom made, which overturns the traditional logic of a façade with entrances and itineraries leading from the roof to the ground floor. The building, organized on three floors with a total surface area of 17,500 square metres, consists of a closed block with continuous overhanging, transparent horizontal bands where prefabricated panels in white concrete, characterized by their three-dimensional surface of varying depths and heights are alternated with strip windows, in a sequence of voids and masses that varies on every floor. The façade on the northern side of the building is “detached” in order to make room for a ramp leading to the roof garden, where the entrance to the building is located. The roof represents the building’s façade. It has been designed with the rhythm and proportions of the facades of Palladian villas, with a large garden in the centre, and large stairs which descend to the reception, and three volumes containing the canteen, meeting rooms and a representative room. The volumes remind of local traditional buildings, with pitched roofs and facing in white bricks. In addition to hosting the three volumes inspired by Palladio, the roof has been turned into a large garden, which appears as spontaneous as the vegetation of the nearby countryside. The building is characterized by a structure in prefabricated concrete (pillars/beams/tiles); the non-structural wall panels have three-dimensional surfaces with different heights and depths, and are made in white concrete. These panels make it possible to define the offices and work areas as well as the shoe museum on the first floor of the building that winds in a circular itinerary through the whole building. The use of alternative energies has been a priority issue, and geothermal wells provide 50% of the energy requirement of the entire building.