Costa Cruises, the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s leading cruise company, is today holding the official inauguration of the “Palazzo Costa”, the innovative architectural project comprising the extension and redevelopment of the Company’s headquarters in Genoa. The new offices will be fêted at a special event with a show open to the general public, starting at 9.30 pm in Piazza Piccapietra. The exterior of the building itself will be hidden from view by means of huge sheets. That will be the screen for an incredible aerial acrobatic performance by the “SenzaRete” company, with dancers suspended in midair hovering over the facade of the new Palazzo and forming 8 tableaux based on the theme of the sky and constellations, always a guide for sailors. At the end of the performance the Palazzo will be “christened” in the same way as a new ship, by breaking a bottle of Italian spumante “Aneri”, and by the reinterpretation of the “classic” ribbon cutting. Sensitive to the environment, Costa Cruises has decided to make the inauguration of the Palazzo Costa” a “zero impact” event. The carbon dioxide emissions produced during the event will be offset by the planting of olive trees, available for the Municipality of Genoa.
The new Palazzo is a perfect blend of creativity, innovation and respect for the environment, with certain features that are at the cutting edge of Italian architecture. It is one of the country’s first buildings with “zero C02 emissions on site”, and also one of the first to have special glass cladding with large panels, specifically designed for this project, covering a surface of 1,500 m² and featuring a LED lighting system that produces dazzling variable color.
Another highlight is the enclosed covered square on the third floor, housing a sculpture created for Costa Cruises by artist and designer Jacopo Foggini, as well as works of art belonging to Costa’s private collection: sculptures and furnishings from the ships of the Costa fleet.
The terraces make telling use of greenery, with hanging gardens and relaxation areas, and there is also an outer wall with a waterfall which flows down into the pool on the Torre San Camillo terrace. The walls of the covered square and the waterfall are enhanced by creations made by the contemporary Spanish graffiti artists “Bombardearte”. The Palazzo Costa is a highly innovative project based on sustainable green building practices, as befits a company that is famous for its state-of-the-art design concepts. The new building is surmounted by the iconic big “C” from the Costa logo – made from over 7,000 decorative LED lights by Finetti of Genova – which sits on top of the glass roof and is part of a spectacular rotating sign that lights up the night like a lighthouse. The interior decoration boasts furnishings by leading Italian designers such as Rossi d’Albizzate, Italamp, P&G, La Murrina, Moroso and Valentini.
The hi-tech features include a “control room” in constant touch with the ships in the fleet all round the world.
“The inauguration of the new Palazzo confirms Costa Cruises’ Genoese roots,” says Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi. “It’s also testimony to the strong financial performance of our Company: despite the unfavorable economic climate we have continued to invest, not only in the construction of new ships, but also in a relevant project like this one, which enables us to bring our head office into line with the scale of the rapid development that the Company is enjoying. The blueprint we chose for our new Palazzo is based on the same cornerstones that are the foundations of our corporate philosophy and our brand: innovation, design, wellbeing and protection of employees, and environmental compliance.”
The far-reaching building project resulting in the Palazzo Costa involved the restyling of the former Amiu offices in Piazza Piccapietra 43 – purchased by Costa Cruises – and the creation of a link between those offices and the two office blocks already occupied by the Company in the Torre San Camillo (Via XII Ottobre 2) and the premises of what used to be the “Coin” department store in Via XII Ottobre 4. The additional office space means that the Costa headquarters now comprise a total area of approximately 10,000 m², plus 7000 m² of offices and warehouses in Via De Marini, with a total of about 700 workstations. Around 40 Ligurian firms were involved in the building of the Palazzo Costa.
The Project Supervisor and Artistic Director was architect Marcello Albini, who also co-designed (with Emanuela Venturini) The “C”dream, Costa Cruises’ innovative lounge bar which opened in 2004. The concept of the new “Palazzo Costa”, originally devised by the two architects together, dates back precisely to 2004, the idea being to add a “natural extension” with the same “poetic” atmosphere as The “C”dream. The project was developed from 2005 onwards by Albini, assisted by a team of Italian designers (engineers and architects).
“The main element of this project is its simplicity,” Albini explains. “This means avoiding purely spectacular and extreme design solutions and focusing on harmonious forms, choice and finish of materials, compliance with safety regulations and the use of energy efficiency technologies. All this without overlooking the poetic, dreamlike dimension, because people choosing a cruise vacation want to leave their everyday life behind and enjoy a dream holiday: accordingly the offices that work to make this dream come true should be like an extension of the ship on dry land and be bathed in a faraway atmosphere.”
The distinctive new façade of the Palazzo, which looks onto Via XII Ottobre and can also be seen from Piazza Piccapietra, appears as a spectacular swathe of clear glass and uses a LED lighting system to turn the surface various shades, by Mess Engineering of Genoa. The color scheme reflects changes in the natural light during the day, creating a stunning visual effect. Glass – the material when it comes to the light, airy feel of transparency that is the key concept for this architectural project – is the star of the new building and covers a surface area totaling more than 2,600 m². Glass features prominently on the first two floors of the Palazzo Costa where it has been used to form decorative “sails”, and also on the upper floors where there is a huge glass “case” made from large silk-screened panels that allow you to see out and convey the feeling of being in the middle of a giant block of ice. The same type of glass cladding used for the Palazzo Costa has featured in other famous architectural projects: notably London’s Canary Wharf area, Barcelona’s Music Museum and the new avant-garde hangar at Salzburg Airport.
The use of glass also characterizes the covered square, an enclosed quadrangle where the transparent materials are designed to merge the exterior into the interior, and which retains the original façade of the former “Amiu” building; here, the wall inside is enhanced by a mural painted by the Spanish “Bombardearte” group of artists, like those seen on the walls outside many city buildings.
Respect for the environment: “zero impact”
One of the most innovative aspects of the Palazzo Costa is its respect for the environment. Use has been made of “green” building materials, advanced technology and leading-edge plant and installations in order to obtain maximum energy savings and cut pollutant emissions. The Palazzo has new high performance heat-insulating and daylighting windows and doors as well as innovative heat pumps that warm and cool the building by borrowing and returning excess heat. Also, the glass cladding increases the efficiency of the building envelope (the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space), maximizing energy efficiency, cutting costs and guaranteeing a comfortable ambient temperature all year round. The use of electricity as the sole energy source for plant and installations makes the Palazzo Costa one of Italy’s first buildings with “zero C02 emissions on site”; this helps keep the city’s air clean while also guaranteeing reduced overall consumption and high energy efficiency with a 140% reduction in energy demand compared to a “traditional” building. Similar measures apply to the lighting, with the use of special LED lights and energy-saving light bulbs, particularly at night-time. Lastly, the use of green roofs and gardens on the terraces improves heat and sound insulation, filters the fresh outdoor air before it enters the building, and reduces the build-up of dust and rainwater run-off.
Interiors: works of art and designer objects made in Italy
The telling use of natural light and materials characterizes the interior of the building, where the color scheme provides a subtle interchange as the dark flooring contrasts with the silvery tones of the furnishing and the false ceilings; the end result is a pleasurable working environment in a harmonious setting that is perfectly in keeping with Costa’s priority on the wellbeing of its employees. Like The “C”dream, the Palazzo Costa is decorated with furnishings and objects by leading names in Italian design: sofas and armchairs by Rossi d’Albizzate; lamps by Italamp, including the sculpture lamps “Dolasilla” and “Heidi”, in the reception; La Murrina chandeliers, notably the “Medusa Swarovski” and “Sea-flower” chandeliers; designer objects by P&G and Valentini; chairs by Knoll; and lighting fixtures by Zumbotel.
The wall in the covered square that once belonged to the Amiu offices now hosts a mural painted by the Spanish “Bombardearte” group of artists, who specialize in works on large surfaces. As the name of the piece – Flores – would suggest, the mural depicts flowers of different sizes in a range of colors. Another painting from the same “series” can be found on the outer wall of the Palazzo Costa, with the waterfall, where the laminated safety glass with a clear plastic film is made from the same technology used for the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
The enclosed covered square is furnished with armchairs, sofas and small tables by Moroso, while the décor includes a plexiglass sculpture, called “The Flowers”, specially created for the quadrangle by artist and designer Jacopo Foggini, depicting flowers in warm colors, and works from the art collection on board Costa’s ships, including “Fauno Disteso” by Marcello Mascherini, a bronze sculpture that was originally displayed in the first class lounge on the Federico C, and Sinisca’s brass and steel sculptures from the Eugenio C and Costa Riviera.