Why diaphrag-ma? The headline is a compound word: the first part synthesizes an element of separation between two environments or between interior and exterior, the second, “ma”, comes from the Japanese principle that is attentive to intervals, to the intermediate spaces and, therefore, to the symbiosis of two places that follow one another in continuity. The allusion is to an element that has the dual function of simultaneously constituting a limit and a connection element, between the countryside, the industry and the residential area: the wall.
The walls establish a visual impact, influencing the visitor point of view, and create views that frame determined portion of the countryside,creating an interaction between two different environments, nature and industry, both physical and visual. To emphasize the importance of these elements and maintain their monolithic appearance, a zenithal lighting was obtained by separating the horizontal and vertical surfaces to allow the penetration of beams of light grazing the surface of the walls. The material choice is also strongly linked to the desire to emphasize the wall as a unitary and inseparable element, by using concrete blocks.
The result is a sequence of volumes that extend from the industrial area towards the adjacent countryside among walls that define their longitudinal development and adapt to the shape of the site. These volumes are connected by a path that crosses the whole building and ideally connects it bilaterally to the city and the countryside, acting as a «ma», despite being a physical presence . The work spaces develop in between the walls, alternating green open spaces which penetrate in the building and create views from the main path that crosses the building.
Three accesses can be identified: one on the south-east side to reach the production area and the deposits, one for pedestrians and production workers on the south-west side, in continuity with the road which crosses the city centre of Stabbia, and one last for the access of the employees and visitors, next to the parking area.
The production area is located in the southern part of the lot because it allows all the loading and unloading activities to be reach easily by the main road. It is composed of work spaces and a relaxation area. Corresponding to visitor acces, in the first volume next to the parking area, there is the reception hall, followed by commercial offices and the openspace offices. Above them are located the design and research areas, both connected to a relax area characterized by a winter garden/greenhouse in the terminal part of the structure, such as in the following buildings.
The company museum and a conference hall are located in the ground floor of the second volume, at the first level of which is organized the company archive. The third of the three long western volumes hosts the showroom and the events area, divided by a corridor that connect the two sides of the project.
The guest house is located in the northern portion of the site, with a direct view on the surrounding countryside, and it’s reachable without going by the work spaces.
Different types of natural lighting can be identified in the project, based on functional needs: production areas requires diffuse lighting provided by a saw-tooth roof with skylights facing north, while the production relax area has large south-facing windows. In the offices and the museum the light enters from the ceiling in order to have a zenithal lighting. The showroom requires only controlled lighting, for the best products exposition.
The main facade appearance is dictated by the desire to obtain an impactful effect, since it overlooks a freeway and the building needs to attract the attention of the passers in order to make the company more visible, without having to use inconsistent billboards. One of the elements that mainly contribute to that purpose is the wall that extends over the facade, which in this case is suspended and conforms like a large cantilever beam.
At the same time the building presents itself in a less invasive way towards the inhabited centre by following the direction of the main road and assuming a more «sculptural» aspect, dictated by the intersection of several walls, which conceals the view of the productive area.