Tadao Ando, the Master... : La Fabrica
Tadao Ando, the Master...
La Fabrica
E.F., July 8, 2018
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/AgorÓ
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/AgorÓ


+ Communications research centre

Valdrada is without doubt one of the most impressive and fascinating of the Invisibile cities to come out of Calvino's fantastic imagination. It is a miraculous mirror image of the world: the hazardous travels of thieves over the rooftops, the intrigues of lovers, the savage gestures of murderers are instantly and symmetrically reflected in the underground city, which continually intersects and interacts with the one above. Something rather similar takes place in Tadao Ando's project for the Benetton Group located in Villa Pastega Manera in Treviso, where the renowned architect has planned Fabrica, the Benetton Research and Development Communication Centre.


Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/AgorÓ by night
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/AgorÓ by night


The prestigious context of the villa made the new project a complex but fascinating challenge. Villa Pastega Manera is a classic seventeenth-century noble villa. The main building and its annexes are immersed in the gently rolling green countryside typically of the "lower" Veneto, so dear to the Venice the Serenissima for its beauty and fertility that it was known as "la Marca Gioiosa".

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Tadao Ando_Gabriella Gomez-Mont
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Tadao Ando_Gabriella Gomez-Mont


Ando, known for his sensitivity to the natural context of his architecture and ability to enhance its abstraction and spirituality, approaches the theme in a non-invasive manner, letting his project "dig" a monumental underground city, visible on the level of the parklands only in the quiet solemnity of the paths.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Auditorium_ Antonia Mulas
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Auditorium_ Antonia Mulas


The task was to create a research centre for communications - visual communications and advertising above all - in which young people from all parts of the world would be able to work together on concrete projects, investigating all forms of artistic expression: cinema, the graphic arts, design, music, publishing (producing the magazine Colors), photography and virtual expression were to interact in a flexible, functional space, not a school but rather a Roman or Renaissance workshop or fabrica.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Floating Lawn and Access to Elliptical Square.
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Floating Lawn and Access to Elliptical Square.


Working with stylists is nothing new to Ando - who recently built Teatro Armani in Milan - and he accepted Luciano Benetton's commission because he liked the idea of incorporating modern architecture into the existing space in such a way as to revitalise it without affronting its noble history, but rather, enhancing the lovely countryside that surrounds the villa.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Balcony of the new Wing
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Balcony of the new Wing


The villa's annexes were renovated to house a number of workshops and an auditorium, but the architect made sure that the restoration stayed true to the original building materials and techniques: impressed by the skill and enthusiasm of the workers involved in the project, the architect chose antique tiles and marble finishes, with "Palladian" or wooden floors.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Rotunda from the Interior
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Rotunda from the Interior


Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin


But the newly constructed part of the project was made of bare reinforced concrete, like all Ando's work: thus the villa's new entrance hall takes the form of a sort of elliptical encroachment whose sombre, non-mimetic form appears simple and stereometric in comparison with the ancient forms of the villa, with which it does not seek to compete.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin


The auditorium emerges out of the existing structure thanks to a curved wall and opens onto the patio with a large opening: this space is announced by a sort of Triumphal Way similar to the one Ando created in Armani's old Nestlé factory in Milan. A series of abstract circular columns crosses the space in front of the annexes, mirrored in the broad pools of water which are typical of Ando's work and yet also belong to the tradition of the Venetian villa, in which the villa gardens were often discretely separated from the rest of the park and lands with an artificially created pool of water.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin


This path leads to the large straight volume at the edges of the area involved in the project: characterised by an alternation of full and empty volumes, it functions as a distribution space, providing direct access to workshops and studios as well as to underground spaces and to the upper terraces, where the colonnade continues. Underground, Fabrica is truly a city in its own right.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin


Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Water view_Attilio Vianello
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Water view_Attilio Vianello


Made up of squares, atriums and galleries, the underground construction is reached by a broad monumental staircase leading to an elliptical piazza with porticos 8 metres below ground level, which intersects with the distribution rectangle. Here too the column motif recurs, creating the evocative effect of a contemporary overlapping of orders which echoes not only Renaissance buildings but also the archaeological space of the theatre and basilica of Vitruvius, or the sacred path to the temple.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Library_Sebastiano Scattolin


The spaces surrounding the underground piazza, visually connected by large planes of glass, lead to a fascinating spiral of vaulted ceilings, which serves as an exhibition space: a sort of upside-down homage to Wright's Guggenheim or, perhaps, Borges' libraries, in a sort of contemporary Valdrada in which any sense of claustrophobia is prevented by light and wind, freely allowed to penetrate through loggias, skylights and window panes.

Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Interior View.
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Interior View.


Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Interior View_Antonia Mulas
Fabrica for Benetton by Tadao Ando_Francesco Radino/Interior View_Antonia Mulas


www.fabrica.it