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Barilla Events and Research Pavilion

Parma, Italy


162,000 sf

Project Text

The New Barilla Pavilion is a new landmark for Parma, celebrating Barilla’s 140th anniversary and re-establishing Barilla’s legacy for generations to come. It is inspired by the iconic, geological conditions of the Appennino Settentrionale and the Italian Alps mountain passes that surround the Parma Region. The undulating profile of the mountain pass is translated into a carving strategy for the long building and is deployed to create porosity that brings people, light, air, and the landscape into the building.


In order to maximize visibility from all key public locations the Barilla Pavilion is positioned as a long bar that runs perpendicular to the campus entrance. This orientation and location established a threshold for the Barilla Parma Campus and a boundary that frames existing lawns connecting the cafeteria. Visitors to the campus will now view and experience the pavilion as a gateway—a portal to the world of Barilla.


The building is designed so that a range of events at different scales can take place throughout the year, throughout different seasons. The ground floor plan remains completely open, but physically and visibly connected to the landscape. Large pivoting doors on the ground floor can remain open during the climatically moderate months to reinforce the continuity between the landscape and building, garden and exhibition space.


The event spaces, classrooms and laboratories can be expand or contract in size, depending on the specific events taking place. On the ground floor are the main forum, reception and experience space, large event space that can be easily subdivided, cafe, sapori kitchen, and shop.


As a contrast to the current industrial nature of the site, the New Barilla Pavilion, its materials, structure and agrarian landscape is an inviting landmark against the roadside landscape. The facade is made of three distinct layers of wood framework. The first innermost layer is the primary structure that acts as an exoskeleton. The second is the middle layer or line of enclosure which consists of the glass curtain wall and wood framing. The third outermost layer is the brise soleil which deflects direct light and reduces solar heat gain within the building.


The pavilion complements the existing Barilla campus buildings by 1) adding a domestic scale to the campus with its open courtyard subtractive ‘cuts’ and 2) adding warmth to the campus through the special character that wood timber and cross-laminated timber provides. The timber can span great distances, thus allowing for large, open flexible programming.


The New Barilla Pavilion’s site serves as open grounds for innovation in architecture, art, and design. Resulting from the buildings’ narrow footprint and location along the edge of the site,

a generous campo provides open space to accommodate the design and construction of small experimental pavilions and sculpture (example Noguchi garden) in addition to an educational

edible garden which supports the growth of local produce to provide healthy and natural food used in the Sapori Barilla. Classes and workshops, located within the flexible floor plan, are

transparent and open to the community garden allowing for direct dialog between making and learning. Outdoor balconies directly accessible from the laboratories overlook the edible garden. The New Barilla Pavilion gives back to the community through its and interdisciplinary programs and activities to sustain the legacy of Barilla’s innovative spirit.


The New Barilla Pavilion will act as a new public destination for the local community to engage in cultural events that merge art, architecture and food, as well as relevant local institutions that wish to collaborate with Barilla.



Seth McDowell, Rychiee Espinosa, Esteban Chavez, Yuheng (Amber) Zhu


©mcdowellespinosa architects

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