With a community space as its core element, the design is a singular composition made of undulating structural ribs that interact with the landscape and vary in their form to modulate natural light, employ sustainable strategies and support a myriad of programs.
The design for the “Barilla Community Forum” combines ideas found in unparalleled historic examples of public space and becomes a place for people to meet, have dialogue and share ideas. Paramount to the development of the design concept is the gathering area at its center, the Piazza di Mondo, which houses a circular community table that can seat three hundred guests and affords uses which vary from educational activities to performances and even regional farmers markets. Echoing the center’s food-based educational and research efforts, the design necessitates direct engagement with the land and adopts a topographic strategy as architectural driver. Part bermed earth and part superstructure, the low slung form aids in sustainable functions – it supports a large array of solar panels, offers complete access to daylight, allows rainwater collection, etc.
Beyond the uses stated in the plans, our hope is that the organization of the design will also inspire future spatial experimentation and enrichment. Because the program is not meant to be absolutely defined, there is inherent flexibility in the sizes and types of spaces created. The angled structural frame works in concert with vertically aligned program, creating voids between the two. These voids, the ‘in between spaces’, allow for a multitude of possibilities of a projective programmatic nature: expansion of interior use both horizontally and vertically, exterior space and greenhouse space for research, informal meeting spaces, area for sustainable enhancements and technology, enhanced circulation, semi-private indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, dining areas, and informal classrooms. Ultimately, this is meant not only to be a center for research and education, but also a generator of global invention.