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Competition: Barilla Pavilion, Italy

Italian food giant Barilla has announced an international contest to design an experimental visitor centre at its Pedrignano plant on the outskirts of Parma (Deadline: 1 June)

The two-stage competition seeks ‘unique and unusual’ proposals for an innovative pavilion structure occupying a prominent site at the entrance to the industrial food production complex.

The project aims to deliver an ‘aesthetically beautiful and experience-focused’ venue featuring flexible education spaces where visitors can learn more about Barilla and the wider agricultural region known as the Italian Food Valley. Proposals must be environmentally friendly, respond to the local cultural offering and help reimagine the site while promoting dialogue between the company and the public.

Barilla's Pedrignano plant in Parma, Italy

Barilla’s Pedrignano plant in Parma, Italy

Barilla’s Pedrignano plant in Parma, Italy

In its brief, Barilla, says it envisages the pavilion ‘as a space bringing together the company and the public; a point of departure for visits to the site, capable of providing an effective setting for the delivery of the complex story of Barilla to visitors.

‘As a one-of-its-kind construction, the new centre will transform the way the Barilla headquarters are used and experienced, providing a quality architectural experience and attracting visitors through the programme of events it will host.

‘We do not see the pavilion as a promotional space, but rather as a house, facilitating a unique and active dialogue between Barilla, the outside world and the future.’

Barilla was founded in 1877 as a bakery shop in Parma by Pietro Barilla. The family owned-business is one of the world’s largest producers of pasta and employs more than 8,000 people in production plants all over the world. The Pedrignano factory was set up in the 1970s.

The pavilion will sit on a prominent site east of the complex, located next to the busy Autostrada del Sole highway.

It will be open to the public 365 days a year and is expected to feature a ‘strong and expressive architectural character’ intended to create a new landmark for Parma and the surrounding food-producing region. A budget for the new structure has yet to be confirmed.

Between seven and ten teams will be invited to participate in the competition’s design phase and will each receive an honorarium. The competition is organised by Luca Molinari Studio and the overall winner will receive a financial prize and be invited to enter into a design contract for the project.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 1 June

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Fazer Visitor Centre case study: Q&A with Mikko Summanen

The co-founder of K2S Architects discuss lessons learned creating a new visitor centre for the Fazer chocolate brand in Finland

Mikko Summanen

Mikko Summanen

Mikko Summanen

How did your project deliver an iconic visitor centre and extension to the Fazer chocolate factory?

The former anonymous factory area was transformed into a public destination by erecting a new visitor centre in the heart of the area. The buildings were built as a result of winning entry of an invitational architecture competition. The new visitor centre is a pavilion which has become the architectonic signature of the area. It is the first object one sees as approaching Fazer factory area which we now call Fazer village.

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Source: Image by Mika Huisman

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The entrance front of the whole area has been transformed by means of landscaping. The large, yet necessary, parking areas were planted with cherry trees and the visitors to the building are guided through a garden of different raw materials of the producer such as grains and fruit trees. The raw materials of Fazer products are strongly present also in the interiors.

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Source: Image by Mika Huisman

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

The selected form language and materials support the brand of Fazer. Local wood is the dominant material in the centre. A wooden cantilevered ceiling gives a strong identity to the visitor centre. In the main entrance, the visitor is confronted with the café and the factory shop. A green room housing cocoa plants, sugar cane, vanilla etc. present another experience of the raw materials in chocolate making. The free plan offers a platform for future experimentation of different concepts and product launches.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new public pavilion for Barilla?

Architecture has the power to transform a place and express the core values of the client. The pavilion is an opportunity to create a platform of experimentation and communication for Barilla.

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Source: Image by Mika Huisman

Fazer Visitor Centre by K2S Architects

Q&A with Luca Molinari

The project spokesman and founder of Luca Molinari Studio discusses his ambitions for the competition

Luca Molinari

Luca Molinari

Luca Molinari

Why are your holding an international competition for a new Barilla Pavilion?

Luca Molinari Studio is an independent firm, with an extensive experience that spans over 30 years including university education and assignments in fields such as architectural research, curatorship, publishing and consulting. Our core mission is to conceive and develop tailored-made projects that can turn visions and needs into tangible projects through an active dialogue with clients. Among these, we curated for ‘S.Pellegrino flagship factory. The starred international architecture competition’, and ‘Competition for Banque Libano-Française New Headquarters’ in Beirut. Concerning Barilla Pavilion International Competition our client, the world leading pasta manufacturer, has shown a strong willingness to leave behind something tangible for the generations to come, starting from the place where Barilla started: Parma. Along with the client, we believe that an open architectural competition could be a great opportunity to discover emerging talents and to stimulate interesting proposals also from established firms. There are no geographical nor age restrictions because we feel that the drive to experiment and visions cannot be confined within a strict framework.

What is your vision for the new addition to the Barilla complex?

The new architectural addition to Pedrignano Headquarters is not intended to be a company museum, much less a shop window for Barilla products, but rather a building that will provide a space in which the most ambitious and controversial questions, issues and challenges facing the food industry can be addressed. What Barilla is looking for is a space that will provide visitors
with a unique, unconventional and surprising physical, mental and sensorial experience. A space in which Barilla can freely experiment and seek a constant dialogue between its own world and those of its visitors. A space dedicated also to Barilla itself, where to experiment, research and investigate the issues related to nutrition and sustainable development, capable of inspiring and fostering internal growth and development. We envisage the Barilla Pavilion as a landmark visible
both from the motorway and the surrounding area. The new space should thus be imagined as an experience-focused venue that possesses public appeal, but that equally has an educational component, and whose architectural flexibility enables it to respond
to these specific and complex requirements. The proposals should demonstrate cutting-edge credentials and sustainability in its architectural choices and the building techniques employed.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

As mentioned above, we are not looking for any specific kind of participants, we just hope to meet interesting, experimental and surprising projects. The aim of this competition is to identify an architect or a firm capable to embody the company’s values and with the ability to implementing the project in close cooperation with Barilla’s representatives and consultants. Of course this project could represent a great opportunity also for the architects involved in such important and challenging project.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

In the ‘70s the newly built Pedrignano Campus was able to boldly embody a different aesthetic of the modernity. During the years, important names of the Italian architecture panorama, such as Vico Magistretti and Pietro Porcinai, has been involved with the aim to constantly improve the quality of spaces in Barills headquarters. Through this competition, Barilla made a decisive step forward to remove the boundaries between production and people. I strongly believe that such a dynamic and forward-thinking client, will continue on this path, but for now the primary concern is on the recently launched Barilla Pavilion International Competition.

Are there any other similar factory visitor centre projects you have been impressed by?

There are plenty of good projects. A lot of companies in the last years build their own visitor centre or worked on the renewal of the headquarters. For example, I have been impressed by the Swarovski Crystal Worlds by Snøhetta and the Technogym Village by Viel and Partners. However, I would like to be clear on this point, we do expect to find something new with no references to these projects.

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