Upon first seeing UNStudio’s proposal for the ENI Foundation Headquarters, it reminded me of crop circles. When I say crop circles I don’t mean the elaborate designs we see in fields today by people who have way too much time on their hands, but instead the simple occurrences that made people go crazy with the talk of extraterrestrials. Although crop circles may be viewed as a joke to most, since they are taken to the extreme as if to poke fun at the original believers, there’s still something intriguingly alien about the interaction between two circles and their geometry.
ENI operates in the field of sustainable development and global governance, monitoring how human activities affect nature and attempting to make things more eco friendly. Keeping with ENI’s practices, this building hopes to make a statement in green architecture. Designed to be energetically sustainable, the building would not only generate enough energy to run itself and improve the quality of life for the employees, but would also be able to input energy into the local smart grid to help the entire neighborhood.
Structurally the inspiration came from the traditional form of the renaissance “palazzo”, an important piece of architectural history for the Italian site. The superimposed circular structures extend the idea of horizontal looped systems back to issues such as communication and energy preservation. With the circular systems in place, the idea was to generate an efficient and simple dynamics between people and encourage better communication. By creating open courtyard spaces, or “cortiles”, within the offset circular structures, it allows more sunlight to penetrate further down and into the buildings while creating a more interconnected community. Like many other sustainable buildings being designed, the ENI Foundation Headquarters inspires a new way of thinking about green architecture to improve the environment not only for us but for others as well, because like the cliché saying goes- what goes around comes around.
By: Kristin Hoover