In 1965 Pietro Santini from Bergamo founded a sportswear company that still bears his name and in nearly 60 years of history has conquered the heights of world cycling. The company has created 25 editions of the Pink Jersey, signed an exclusive agreement with IRONMAN (the world’s most important triathlon circuit) and most recently, since 2022, it has partnered with the Tour de France to provide five editions of its famous yellow jersey.
In 2021 the Santini Spa company purchased one of the most desirable industrial zones in the city of Bergamo. Created from the 1960s onwards, with the aim of both preserving a natural space and meeting the needs of industrial expansion, this area consists of a series of buildings constructed in a park with tall forest trees.
The main building is an office block designed by the architect Giuseppe Gambirasio, whose distinctive style is still very much in evidence. For the company, taking over such a historic structure was seen as an important added value. The goal was to give it a new life by moving the company’s production, offices and spaces for meeting the public there.
The architectural and restoration project was entrusted to the architect Marco Acerbis. From the outset, he sought to interact with the pre-existing style of the site and its clear historical memory while also expressing the character of Santini Spa with all its hallmark strength and dynamism.
The first step was to clear the area of certain existing buildings and complete the production area, so the company could relocate in the shortest possible time. The demolition of these building volumes resulted in the expansion of the office block ground floor area and the creation of spaces better suited to Santini's representational needs, like the store that is open to the public.
The architect then continued cleaning up the site by eliminating the interior partitions that hid the building’s splendid reinforced concrete walls and opting instead for an open plan design with occasional light interior glass screens. This allows natural light to flow more elegantly into the spaces, creating a continuous shifting of shadows that transform this reinforced concrete structure into a breathtaking sculpture.
Acerbis’ most important intervention, though, is the central part of the building. To obtain a large space with a strong connection to the outside world, despite the building’s interiors being very deep and often perceived as too dark, the central glass window above the two stairwells leading to the second floor was demolished and reconstructed in a contemporary style by creating a large skylight.
This allows natural light to be enjoyed all the way down to the ground floor. Natural light also guided the changes made to the staircase parapets, which have been lightened by the repeated use of an 'L' element in curved metal. The gap created between these 'L' elements allows light to pass and has the effect of making the stairs seem almost buoyant.
In agreement with the architect, an important artificial lighting project has also been installed around the large central skylight. During the day, the walls surrounding it are illuminated by natural light that penetrates and also creates shadows, while the large supporting beams positioned below it are perceived as dark lines. To achieve a similar effect during the evening, Palco InOut projectors with Very Wide Flood optics have been positioned above the beams to illuminate the skylight perimeter evenly, without creating reflections on the skylight glass, which therefore remains dark. The light, therefore, falls indirectly on the spaces below, creating the same soft and gentle atmosphere as natural light.
In other areas, the effect of light raining down from above to permeate the environments below is recreated in the evening, through the widespread use in the rooms of 59 and 87cm diameter recessed versions of the Isola luminaire fitted with UGR optics.
On the ground floor, there are two large counters, one facing the entrance that serves as a reception desk and one on the opposite side that acts as a bar. The bar area features a series of jerseys, displayed like pictures, which tell the story of the brand. Made for different cycling races and teams over the years. These jerseys are illuminated by Tecnica Evo flood and wide flood spotlights mounted on tracks.
Black finish, ∅ 92 mm Tecnica spotlights fitted with flood and wide flood optics are also used inside the shop, which is open to the public. The showroom, on the other hand, which can only be visited by invitation, is lit by Palco Low Voltage projectors with wide flood optics. These projectors also fully meet the almost museum-like lighting needs of a small area of the showroom dedicated to the "Eroica," a race that takes place every year on vintage bikes on dirt tracks in Tuscany and of which Santini is a main partner.
The company canteen, lit by iN 30 low contrast linear luminaires, is located in this area of the company too. The first floor houses the company offices that are arranged in an open plan design and separated from each other by partitions composed of shaped slats custom-designed for the spaces. In the shared spaces, tracks and Palco projectors provide general lighting, while in the offices IN 60 light lines with UGR optics are arranged geometrically within the reinforced concrete structures and supplemented by Tecnica Evo projectors with flood optics on tracks. IN 60 luminaires have also been installed above the Phone Booth space where informal workstations are located.
In the corridors, Laser Blade XS and Underscore 15 light lines have been integrated to create a play of light that enlivens these transit areas, usually left in anonymity.
The new Santini Spa headquarters is a building that combines industrial history and Italian architectural culture of the 1960s, as well as the history of a company that already existed at that time but is now moving into the future.
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