Reducing land consumption
Prada Group’s manufacturing plants extend for over 240,000 m2, 200,000 of which are in Italy. There are 27 different production, prototyping and logistics plants; 5 new buildings, 3 recovered industrial archaeology areas and several cases of reuse of degraded sites abandoned for many years.
Why continue building?
Does anything exist that already meets our needs?
How many square meters of abandoned industrial sites are there in Italy?
These are the key questions that have motivated the choices of the Prada Group over the years. The same questions addressed by today’s most advanced territorial and urban planning instruments.
Buying and giving new life to “historic” industrial sites means showing respect for the work and the memory of the efforts people once made in those places.
The Prada Group, in harmony with the local authorities and the Superintendence of Artistic and Cultural Assets, expressed its greatest commitment and applied its know-how to recovering the landmark sites, with the restoration of important historical buildings, some turned into own brand shops – an activity undertaken by architect Roberto Baciocchi – as well as skillfully restoring buildings and monuments such as Ca’ Corner della Regina in Venice and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.
Church’s new Headquarters
A former tram depot in Northampton, UK
In 2014, Church’s purchased the iconic property in Northampton that had been the headquarters of the city’s public transport company for 109 years. Built in 1904, the former bus and tram depot is a huge, red brick industrial structure with trussed roofing overlooking St. James Road, a stone’s throw from Church’s former premises.
When the restoration has been completed, the building will house a production workshop where the traditional British handmade shoes will be assembled.
Another example of careful restoration of historical buildings with high emotional value for the local community, preserved to give a formal continuity to different intended uses while safeguarding the architectural and urban identity of the places in which they were built.
Municipal Transport Operations, the company that owns the property, was about to make a sale to a shopping mall when Church’s, together with the Northampton municipality, intervened to save an essential piece of local history, of which the citizenry is fond, and also to increase its production capacity, investing on an icon of British industrial history.
The complex is composed of an original solid-brickwork structure with a light iron truss cladding and a skylight on top. A typical design for factories of the early 20th century, whose façades recalled the front of cathedrals, concealing the huge spaces behind them.
Near the factory is an early 20th century-style office building.
Over the years, the old structure was enriched with some less prestigious buildings designed exclusively to meet functional needs and adjust small inconsistencies.
In 2015, a new restoration project will begin, aimed at preserving the oldest part of the building and reconstructing the original façades, whose arcade was subjected to some poor cladding work in more recent times, and improving the most recent parts to harmonize the entire complex, including some partial demolitions.
A preliminary environmental improvement will be carried out on the entire site that will involve the removal of hydrocarbon storage tanks and soil treatment.
A building site in the Galleria
Combining the need for historical and artistic preservation and protection with an increase in seismic resistance and, last but not least, a safe building site, is the challenge of every restoration work in a special historical context.
In the restoration project that the Prada Group carried out on a substantial part of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, the challenge consisted of a few essential activities:
• Drafting a geometric, material and historical investigation plan;
• Conducting experiments during the design and building phases;
• Sustainability and reversibility of the work;
• Industrialization of the building process.
The project development phase was not based on a “closed approach”: the logic behind the building site, the reality of every connection and detail and the existing structure made the building phase a means to validate every project option.
The use of steel and wood enhanced the concept of the structural project of a “drywall construction”, giving the term “reversibility” an authentic meaning.
The final technical and scientific evaluation of the restoration consisted in a complete graphic and photographic documentation of the work in its various stages, provided by the Prada Group to the competent authorities.
In a building with the last three levels consisting of a reinforced concrete framework over the original eighteenth-century structure of brickwork and metal-studded beams, added following the bombing during the second world war, the seismic resistance of the entire structure was significantly improved and the work was carried out in compliance with the new standards imposed by the intended use of the building as a museum. The project had a scientific design approach and required direct interaction with the supervisory authorities.
A conscious initiative projecting the values of responsibility, respect for the historical and artistic environment and safety.
Ca’ Corner della Regina
The Venetian venue of Fondazione Prada
Ca’ Corner della Regina, the first example of non-baroque palazzo of its time, was built between 1724 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi for the family of San Cassiano, on the ruins of the palazzo where Caterina Corner, future queen of Cyprus, was born.
Some episodes of her life are depicted in the frescoes adorning the main floor.
Ca’ Corner’s architectural style echoes the nearby Ca’ Pesaro, by Baldassarre Longhena, currently the seat of Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna and Museum of Oriental Art. The building is structured on three levels, which include two mezzanines between the ground level and the first floor. The façade is in Istrian stone with rustication over the ground floor and the mezzanine. The last descendant of the Corner family bequeathed the palace to Pope Pius VII and, until 1969, the building housed the Congregation of Padri Cavanis and Monte di Pietà, and later served as the seat of the Historical Archives of Contemporary Art for the Biennale, from 1975 to 2010.
The restoration of the building, suspended in 1995 by the public administration, started again in 2011 thanks to a concession from Musei Civici Veneziani that granted Fondazione Prada rights over the entire structure.
Initially, the work was limited to preservation and building repairs.
In December 2012 the palazzo was alienated by the Municipality of Venice and has now become the permanent Venetian headquarters of Fondazione Prada, with restrictions on the intended use of the building only as ‘museum space’ and a confirmation of the original promotion and preservation plan that was, however, delayed due to the alternation of restoration and repair works and the art exhibits scheduled for the spring/summer period.
All the work was carried out in accordance with the directives of the local Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici di Venezia e della Laguna (Venice and Lagoon Landmark and Landscape Preservation Authority) and the Municipality of Venice.