In the rural commune of Russi, in northeastern Italy, the Italian architecture studio Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti has converted an industrial area that was previously used for sugar production into Powerbarn, a sustainable bioenergy production plant.
Inspired by sustainability, the architects drew up a master plan that integrated architecture into the agricultural landscape and restored and renaturalized some 280,000 square meters – including three wetlands – for the benefit of the local ecosystem and community. Surrounded by artificial dunes, Powerbarn uses biomass, biogas and solar systems to generate approximately 222 GWh per year, enough to meet the energy needs of 84,000 families.
The facility sits on the former industrial property, which was the site of the Eridania sugar factory. This is why Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti paid particular attention to the property boundaries, which the team has redefined with artificial dunes – rather than an industrial fence – built solely from the land used in construction.
Our intention was to create something similar to a natural bastion, surrounding the power production plant. It is not a barrier, but a functional element that would express our design intentions: to create a permeable, accessible and living element.
Inspired by the “razzle dazzle” camouflage technique, Vaccarini dressed the Powerbarn in large triangular panels of wood and steel. The master plan also includes an office building, an electrical substation and an area for the collection of sewage. In addition to solar energy, the Powerbarn is powered by wood chips and organic materials obtained within a 70-kilometer radius of the site along with wastewater from livestock that is fed into the biogas plant.
More information: giovannivaccarini.it