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Petronas Research & Technology Centre

State-of-the-art new Research and Technology Centre for world-leading oil corporation

The journey began in 2010 when Petronas Lubricants International announced an international design competition for a new $60m flagship Global Research and Technology Centre to act as an international hub.

The brief from Petronas was to build a world-class facility, equipped with advanced laboratories, equipment and facilities to develop lubricants for both the domestic car and motor racing in which it supplies Mercedes AMG Petronas, the current Formula 1 World Champions.

A building worthy of Turin's great automotive heritage

Set in an industrial zone to the south east of Turin, enjoying spectacular views of the Alps and surrounding countryside the building design had to reflect both this beautiful natural setting and its industrial heritage whilst at the same time giving Petronas a forward looking workplace in which their highly skilled staff could enjoy best in class facilities.

The site, occupying a linear plot between industrial buildings and agricultural land set in narrow strips to the south east, responds to this context, celebrating its role at the nexus of this juxtaposition in its angular silhouette, its subtle surface cladding tones and its sharp, precise detailing and engineered materiality.

Designed in collaboration with local architects 967 Architetti Associati, the concept started with a simple volume that has been spliced with a diagonal line to give beautiful sharp geometries and a striking and streamlined sculptural form. The entrance is marked by the apex of the building with a forecourt arrival and events space formed by the subtracted volume. At the front the block is elevated three stories to maximise the views to the west, and to inform the dramatic atrium space.

Beautiful showcase spaces

The arrival experience is secure yet inviting, welcoming and impressive with a glazed two-storey atrium providing a technology showcase and exhibition space. This is the first touch point for Petronas activities worldwide and Lewis Hamilton’s 2016 F1 car dramatically and beautifully conveys a global message of cutting edge precision, performance and achievement.

From this space there is direct access to the conferencing and learning spaces and an upper gallery offering dramatic internal and external views.

From here a further level of security access separates the office accommodation at levels two and three which combine open plan desk space with glass walled offices and meeting rooms, promoting visual contact within the space and eroding traditional hierarchies in favour of a collaborative open team environment.

The restaurant at level one, enjoying an external roof terrace, sits between this office meeting and conferencing environment providing the heart of the community and a space in which to meet and relax.

Transparency meets security

The more secure research and test spaces sit further along the floor including laboratories, engine test cells, workshops, rolling roads and large component test stations. Careful arrangement of the labs, write up spaces and task areas allows clear and legible sight lines for those using the space.

The layout permits visitors to see from an upper gallery into the ‘technical street’ between the sixteen engine test cells whilst enabling strict adherence to probity requirements between competing manufacturers. This technical corridor is the ‘clean’ side incorporating desk-based controls and monitoring screens whilst the engines and vehicle components are brought in and removed via two parallel streets on the opposite side of the linear test cells.

One of the key challenges of Petronas' multi-layered brief, was to express openness and transparency in what is a very discrete and secure research and technology facility. To do this as you move through the building, from the forward-facing, transparent showcase spaces, the building becomes more secure, with glazing becoming higher in the laboratory areas and roof lights featuring in the test cells to give light-filled spaces for employees but with no external intrusion.

The material palette has been kept simple with glass, metal cladding which reflects beautifully on the southern facade and careful minimal detailing throughout. Solar shading is not only functional but provides interest and resonates with the precision engineering of the foils of the F1 car.

“This is the most advanced laboratory for fuel technology in the world. However it doesn't just allow us to develop the best solutions for our customers, it is also a great place to work. We have beautiful light-filled spaces, places to connect and collaborate with our colleagues and flexibility to adapt and grow. We are in love with the place!”
Guiseppe D'Arrigo - Managing Director, Petronas Lubricants International
The launch event for Petronas' European R&D centre in Turin, Italy, designed by Broadway Malyan
“It was a highly complex and technical project which not only gives Petronas a dynamic and future proofed workplace environment that embraces a range of connected flexible spaces, but also gives their visitors that all important ‘wow factor’. The facility that will allow Petronas to continue to innovate and serve the technical requirements of its global client base which is also an architectural landmark worthy of Turin’s rich automotive heritage.”
David Anderson, Director, Broadway Malyan

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