Sustainability takes the shape of a lightning bolt in Florence

For Arval headquarters in Scandicci, in the outskirts of Florence, Pierattelli Architetture has designed a concept capable of gathering in one project the values of a distinctive iconic shape, technological innovation, social and environmental sustainability.

Arval is one of the leading companies in long-term car rental and its new headquarters in Florence represents the themes of social and environmental sustainability that characterize the company.

This “Photovoltaic Bolt” aims to be a building that architectonically represents a landscape landmark. An architecture where the word “sustainability” is not is not just an abstract or decorative concept.

The “Bolt” is a Climate House Class A building without emissions, self-sufficient thanks to geothermal pumps and photovoltaic panels.

The 7000 sqm of offices and common spaces are distributed over 3 floors and a basement that hosts about 200 employees per floor. Spaces are articulated around a central dorsal on north-south axis to provide an east-west direction and guarantee a correct sunlight positioning.

The complex has huge photovoltaic wings realized through special photovoltaic flexible panels with a high efficiency, located on a lightweight steel structure and integrated with the ones on the roof. Systems and energetic management of the building are controlled by an automatic system that optimizes results.

The main hallway is the distribution center of all these functions. Crossing this space, you perceive the importance of a double volume with light coming from a huge glass wall on two floors. Natural light exalts this huge volume and the intense colour of the furniture minimizes the institutional context. Most of the offices develop in huge open spaces where the feeling of openness is noticeable thanks to internal and external windows and helped by a strong acoustic comfort, made through false ceilings and anti-noise panels.

Concerning artificial light, Pierattelli Architetture used ceiling lights of different dimensions, placed apparently at random, to guarantee a huge and diffuse lighting capability. Offices floors are distinguished by colours: each floor is easily identified according to the function that it conducts. The ground floor in ochre yellow for bureaucracy, first floor in cobalt blue for managers and administrations, the second in light green for the call center and learning center. The basement hosts the technical spaces for energetic control and a huge break-area made in a light brown colour.

The complex is characterized by huge photovoltaic wings, with a surface bigger then 1100 sqm and about 1000 panels, realized with a steel frame divided in aisles. The bigger wing, which leans on the main entrance, has a dimension of 50m by 35m by 36m, while the smaller one leaning on the back elevation measures 23m by 33m by 40m. The structures, helped by the panels over the roof, develop enough power to activate the geothermal pumps in the subsoil and make the building completely energetically selfsufficient.

The panels are made with an innovative technology, that immerses the silicon cells inside a transparent plastic panel, making the weight of each panel extremely light without touching the attributes of energy production.

To increase the dynamic identity of the building and interrupt the monotony of continuous windows, concrete pre-made facades were also designed. Using an innovative design, moulds were made with eaves on right and left sides. Matching those elements, it was possible to create tips, with a diamond shape, that move the elevations and the shapes of the building as much internally as externally. The new Arval headquarters is one of the first directional buildings in Italy with zero environmental impact.