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A cover that acts like a second skin

Building panelling made from perforated sheet

A really good idea is needed for an architecture award. For example, a building panelling which acts like a second skin. This effect can be achieved with aluminium perforated sheet. There are no limits to the design possibilities. A completely unconventional material which inspires architects to create superb ideas.

A beautiful cover is half the battle

The DAP architecture studio in Milan, Italy was given the task of redeveloping the former oratory, which now houses the public library, in the city of Lonate (Italy). "In the end, we had to supplement the restoration with an annex", explain Paolo Danelli and Elena Sacco from DAP. "This is fully covered with 3 mm thick MEVACO perforated sheets R10 U25.98 with round holes on a square pitch. A cover that acts like a second skin." DAP received the prestigious "Philip Rotthier"architectural award for this project.

No one can really remember the last time the former San Michele oratory in the city of Lonate, in the Lombardy region of Italy, was used as a chapel. Somewhere along the line, it was converted into a library, which over the years was expanded to include several smallish container-like building sections for the building technology. In 2006, the Lonate city councillors finally reacted to this eyesore in the heart of the historical city centre and decided to carry out a general renovation. They awarded this job to the Milan architecture office DAP.

Historic building meets modern architecture

The two founders of DAP, Elena Sacco and Paolo Danelli, remember: "It was quickly clear to us that the renovation would necessitate major interventions in the historical building. In order to keep these to a minimum, we recommended the construction of a second building at the side of the oratory to the city council, who welcomed the proposal. They also made us responsible for the interior design." The new building had, however, initially to be built; this is where Elena Sacco and Paolo Danelli came up with a few extraordinary ideas:

Invisible joints for uniform façade

"We covered the newly constructed building with MEVACO perforated sheets in order to achieve the effect that the entire façade is a single surface. We used the perforation R10 U25.98, which has a material thickness of 3 mm and round holes on a square pitch", explains Elena Sacco. "For this purpose, we had to mount a metal frame substructure on the white outside wall of the annex, so that it was as close as possible to this outer wall. This allowed us to attach the perforated sheets so that the joints were almost imperceivable. First of all, we calculated the perforated sheet expansion when exposed to heat and cold. We then decided in favour of the 3 mm thick perforated sheets. We could thus prevent the sheets from becoming bent or warped."

Cloudscape appearance when exposed to different light incidences

The MEVACO perforated sheet panelling encloses the building like a second skin, even at the windows and doors! The architects came up with something special for the latter: "We changed the perforated sheets here acc. to a previously created design template" states Elena Sacco. We enlarged the holes using dynamic water-jet technology. We gave a total of 20 perforated sheets an artistic flourish in this way. They now look like cloudscape when exposed to different light incidences".

Energy-efficient design ideas

Design ideas were, however, not the only reason that the architects used MEVACO perforated sheets. "We attach great importance to an efficient energy management", explains Elena Sacco. "In this case, the building consists of the cement shell with an insulation layer consisting of wood wool and the light-permeable façade made from MEVACO perforated sheets. There is also a ventilation system to protect against dampness under the floor and a thermodynamic heating system with air-conditioning. The building is thus perfectly insulated." The proportions between the new and old buildings ensure a perfect fit with the historical oratory. It is thus no surprise that the people in Lonate love their renovated library. In the meantime, architecture fans from all over the world are arriving to marvel at the twin buildings; this architectural gem did not go unnoticed and in 2011 Elena Sacco and Paolo Danelli were nominated for the "Philip Rotthier" architecture award and the "Mies Van der Rohe Prize".


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