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There is

a powerful idea in here.

www.italcementigroup.com

Our work and the solidity of our materials hold the power of our ideas and of our experience. Italcementi Group is the trademark that seals the relationship between two leaders of the worldwide cement market: Italcementi and Ciments Français, whose joint experience unites the know-how, traditions and cultures of ten countries. 50 cement factories, 230 quarries, 320 concrete plants, 15,000 people and one of the world’s most advanced technical centres. These are the foundations which enable Italcementi Group to meet local needs with the global vision of a worldwide organization. Leader in Europe, the group offers outstanding technological solutions, quality products, and an ever more complete customer service. Building something that leaves a unique and original imprint over time.

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Italcementi Group A world class local business

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■ The images on the two previous ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

pages are taken from the Italcementi Group 1997 advertising campaign for the introduction of the Group Corporate Identity. The campaign, designed in cooperation with Young & Rubicam, was organised in Europe and at local level, to appear in the main daily and business newspapers and trade publications in the countries in which Italcementi Group operated:

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Great Britain Financial Times International Cement Review Italy Il Sole 24 Ore Corriere della Sera la Repubblica l’Arca Costruire Nuovo Corriere dei Costruttori L’Industria Italiana del Cemento France Le Monde Les Echos La Tribune Le Moniteur Belgium Le Soir De Standaard Trends Spain El Pais El Mundo Expansion La Vanguardia Arte y Cemento Cemento y Hormigon Turkey Hürriyet Dünya Sabah Morocco L’Opinion Le Matin du Sahara L’Economiste La Vie Economique USA/Canada The New York Times The Globe and Mail Investors Chronicle Rock Products


Rivista semestrale pubblicata da Six Monthly Magazine published by Italcementi Group via Camozzi 124, Bergamo, Italia Direttore responsabile Editor in Chief Sergio Crippa Caporedattore Managing Editor Francesco Galimberti Coordinamento editoriale Editorial Coordinator Ofelia Palma Realizzazione editoriale Publishing House l’Arca Edizioni spa Redazione Editorial Staff Elena Cardani, Carlo Paganelli, Elena Tomei Autorizzazione del Tribunale di Bergamo n° 35 del 2 settembre 1997 Court Order n° 35 of 2nd September 1997, Law Court of Bergamo

1997-2007: Ten Years of Corporate Identity at the Italcementi Group A special edition of arcVision to document and celebrate this milestone in the history of the Group

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Italcementi Group Corporate Identity. Ten Years On

 Global 































































Giampiero Pesenti

Improving Together

Carlo Pesenti

A Powerful Idea in My Mind

John Williamson

Winning the Local-to-Global Challenge

Marina Leopardi

Spiralling Success

Robert Jones

Beyond Brand – The Big Idea

aV

Branding Today

















































Image Building











































Mario Antonio Arnaboldi

The Changing Languages of Communication

Texts by Carlo Paganelli

The Tempo of a New Vision























A Dinosaurian Design Project by Architektur Consult ZT

A Shamanistic Identity Project by Foster + Partners

Urban-Scale Glamour Project by Herzog & de Meuron

Visual Rationalism Project by Tuomo Siitonen Architects

Three-Pointed Superstar Project by UN Studio Ben van Berkel & Caroline Bos

Corporate Transparencies

A Brand of Light Project by KHR arkitekter AS

Boundless Information Project by Christian de Portzamparc





















































































A great little revolution The adventure continues Interview with Sergio Crippa

“L’imagination au pouvoir”

www.italcementigroup.com

A world class local business







90 93 94

An extract from the 1997 press conference

Cover, the spiral symbol reflecting the key elements of the vision of the Italcementi Group.



70 76 84

Project by Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner





26 30 36 44 52 58 66

Project by Bernard Tschumi Architects

 News



5 10 14 17 20 23

Interview with Lee Coomber

 Projects



Printed September 15, 2007


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Global

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Pagina 4

Italcementi Group Corporate Identity. Ten Years On

10 March 1997 is the date marking the creation of the Italcementi Group corporate identity—an integral part of the business strategy to spread the know-how of individual local operations throughout the organisation, to establish new common procedures, to accustom people to feeling part of a single team. It was 1992 when Italcementi acquired Ciments Français, one of the world’s largest cement players, more than twice the size of the Italian company: in an industry where, at the time, mergers were few and far between, the acquisition took the market by surprise. Italcementi was implementing a strategic and tactical programme to extend its geographical range and increase business diversification. In many ways, the acquisition was a bold move, involving a sweeping restructuring and re-organisation to accomplish the integration of the two companies. The process was driven primarily by the need to optimise industrial plant performance across the

This issue of arcVision takes us back to 1997, the year that saw the birth of the Italcementi Group visual identity. Now, 10 years on, we recall the genesis of the Italcementi Group logo, created to promote a Group global vision in a consistent, co-ordinated manner, through the official documents, scientific analyses and the recollections of those who so generously contributed to its development. With the collaboration of the logo’s creators, the consultants from Wolff Olins, the famous London brand consultancy, we go back step by step over the process that enabled Italcementi Group to become what it is today. A reflection which, aside from any pretence at recreating history, we think may be of interest to our readers.

Group by leveraging Italcementi’s long and distinguished tradition of technical expertise and know-how. For this reason, the first step was the formation of the CTG, the Group Technical Centre, a joint venture equally owned by Italcementi and Ciments Français which has been responsible for plant management and R&D since 1994. The on-going integration of the two companies’ corporate cultures eventually led to a new management policy combining Italcementi’s worldwide vocation and local operations with strategic geographical expansion, thereby establishing the vision of the Group as a world class local business. Today, after subsequent acquisitions in four continents, Italcementi Group is active in 22 countries and has more than 23,000 employees. A result achieved by coupling an international outlook with a constant focus on maintaining the balanced economic and production footing that has always been a hallmark of the Group’s operations. Italcementi Group’s history reflects the gradual development of an ethical and professional heritage whose solid roots guarantee secure growth. Strong ties with the community and cultural traditions, the importance attached to R&D and attention to people are still today the core values of an organisation whose continuing expansion is guided by the principles of sustainable development. Italcementi Group wants to hand on an organisation with a great business heritage: a legacy through which it will continue to grow, generating wealth for its shareholders and stakeholders.


Improving Together by Giampiero Pesenti*

Remembering the past and watching the present to imagine the future

Giampiero Pesenti

10 March 1997 was an important milestone in the history of Italcementi Group. The launch of the new corporate identity completed the process to integrate Italcementi, the parent company, with Ciments Français, acquired in 1992: two companies dating back over one hundred years, one a family-based Italian concern, the other a highly internationalised French enterprise. A new logo and a new vision to unify a varied industrial organisation, a worldwide group with operations in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, the USA and Canada; two companies with profoundly diverse histories and cultures; two consolidated management teams with their own values, strategies and institutional loyalties. Ten years later, arcVision wants to celebrate the anniversary with key extracts from Giampiero Pesenti’s speech at the 1997 meeting attended by a large group of international stakeholders and journalists from a wide range of sectors: the economy, marketing, communication, building construction … along with a few editor’s notes of explanation highlighting the major events and developments that took place during this period.

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ergamo, March 10, 1997 “This is a historic day for Italcementi, a date marking the completion of a sweeping transformation of our Group’s structure and organisation. The process began in 1992 with the acquisition of Ciments Français. I remember clearly the day I left for Paris to close the talks with Paribas for the acquisition of Ciments Français. I confess that I had many reservations: it was a huge undertaking in financial terms—one of the largest foreign acquisitions by an Italian company—in management terms, and in organisational terms. Yet if anyone were to ask me

today whether I would still purchase Ciments Français, I would say yes, I would do it all again … although I would probably hold out for a lower price. The Ciments Français acquisition has changed the dimensions, culture and approach of Italcementi: in five years, we have moved from being an enterprise focused on Italy into a multinational with 72% of production operations located abroad. Without question this transformation has been facilitated by the cultural input we have received from the managers in Ciments Français and the other

subsidiaries. For its part, Ciments Français, having embarked on an all-out expansion strategy at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, has established itself over the last five years as an industrial holding rooted in its core business: cement, ready mixed concrete and aggregates. Together with the Ciments Français management team, in part renewed, in part consolidated, we have made great progress, completing a major restructuring and re-organising our corporate system. As a result, Ciments Français is back in the black and is now on a sounder footing to meet the difficult conditions on the European markets, where the construction industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis. The last five years have been difficult, sometimes extremely tough. We have come through thanks to the combined efforts of the Group’s managers and the creation of a new internal organisation attributing operating responsibility at individual company level, and functional responsibility at Group level. We have created: – a Group Executive Committee (Comex), a non-statutory body responsible for guiding the Group’s decisions. The Executive Committee has nine members. I am Chairman and the Personnel and Communication functions report to me.

[At the time, Giampiero Pesenti was Italcementi’s CEO and Managing Director.] Yves René Nanot, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ciments Français, is the committee’s Deputy Chairman, and the International Strategy, Procurements, and European Community Relations functions report to him. Pierfranco Barabani, Italcementi’s Vice Chairman and General Manager, coordinates

operations in Italy and the Legal Affairs function reports to him. Ettore Rossi is the Italcementi Deputy General Manager for Administration, Finance & Control, and the Group AF&C function and the Internal Audit function report to him. Jean-Paul Méric, the Ciments Français Executive Vice President for International Operations is Head of operations in North America, Morocco, Greece and Turkey and International Trading. Antoine Gendry, Ciments Français Executive Vice President, is Head of operations in France, Belgium and Spain. Vittorio Ortolani is Italcementi Deputy General Manager for Technical Operations and Chief Executive Officer of the CTG Group Technical Centre; the R&D division reports to him. Bruno Isabella, Joint General Manager of Italmobiliare, the holding that controls Italcementi, coordinates the Executive Committee’s activities. Ciments Français Vice President Jean-Pierre Eymery coordinates International Strategy, which, as I said, reports to Yves René Nanot.”

[This Franco-Italian steering committee was set up for the specific purpose of consolidating the integration of Italcementi and Ciments Français, two different-sized bodies; it no longer exists today. In the summer of 2000 a more integrated, coordinated organisation structure was put in place to improve operating efficiency, market offer and the effectiveness of an acquisition-based growth strategy. An office of the CEO was established, comprised of CEO Giampiero Pesenti, Chief Operating Officer Rodolfo Danielli, and Chief Development Officer Yves René Nanot. As a result of the new organisation, Italcementi and Ciments Français, under the

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umbrella of Italcementi Group, shared responsibilities for strategic and operating leadership and international growth; central functions were unified and operating responsibilities were re-organised on a geographical basis. In 2004, the appointment of Giampiero Pesenti as Chairman and Carlo Pesenti as CEO represented a further step in the management organisation. They constitute the Office of the Chairman together with COO (Rodolfo Danielli) and CDO (Yves René Nanot).] “– the Group functional divisions, to coordinate resources and programmes, – the CTG Group Technical Centre, through which we share our know-how and research, apply our expertise to raise plant efficiency and improve products to match specific customer needs. Research is and will continue to be a key strength of Italcementi Group.”

[Today, the CTG with its units in Bergamo (Italy) and Guerville (France) is one of Europe’s most important research centres for cement-based materials. The Group’s commitment to innovation and research has been further enhanced by the current construction of a new research lab, the ITCLab (Innovation and Technology Central Laboratory), in the “Kilometro Rosso” science and technology park near Bergamo.] “At CTG we are currently working on new improved cement-based materials. A few days ago I had the honour and pleasure of being received by His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the presentation of the project for the Jubilee Church, designed by the great American architect Richard Meier, for which Italcementi is the main technical sponsor. Like our cooperation thirty years ago

with another great architect, Luigi Nervi, on the Vatican’s Audience Hall, our cooperation with Richard Meier stems from the know-how of our research centre in developing increasingly sophisticated cements.”

[Now as then, Italcementi follows the latest design trends and technological innovations in cutting-edge architecture.

For the Jubilee Church, Dives in Misericordia, Italcementi’s goal was to meet the requirements of the architect and the Diocese of Rome with a product of enormous added value and great symbolic value. The Italcementi labs in Italy and France developed a titanium-based white cement, as part of a major research project, to optimise the aesthetic

durability of cement structures and preserve the building’s original appearance over time. TX Active® was used for the first time in the construction of the Jubilee Church, and is one of the most interesting results of the Group’s research and innovation work. An Italcementi patented formulation, TX Active® is an active principle used in cement


materials: it reacts with the light and speeds up the natural oxidation processes that cause the decomposition of atmospheric pollutants.] “In five years, we have successfully built, re-organised and launched an international group, one of the largest worldwide. A unified, competitive group that intends to communicate its

distinguishing features to the outside world through a new common corporate image. The corporate identity that will become operational around the world will be the symbol of a united international group, which intends to become increasingly efficient and effective. People familiar with Italcementi know that our corporate culture

has always been based on silence and restraint. We prefer to stay out of the limelight. So for us, image is not a cosmetic operation, a pure and simple restyling. The corporate identity project aims to achieve two main goals. The first is internal. We felt we needed to associate all our resources in all our subsidiaries with a single vision, to share common objectives: – Greater awareness of intent for the entire Group, with broad diffusion of ideas and know-how among our branches; this is essential if we are to respond promptly to change. – Greater effectiveness and speed of action with a view to boosting the Group’s global efficiency. – A better decision-making system. The second objective is external.

the world to be aware of this strength, this powerful idea used as the claim for the advertising campaign for the launch of our new identity. Our ultimate goal is to raise our system efficiency and thus enhance profitability. The vision driving our activities and strategy over the coming years focuses on five key themes: – Our goal is to become one of the world’s most efficient and effective cement groups. – For the future we need to be able to change fast. – Our horizon is global, even if we must always stay close to our local markets. – Our work must focus on technological development and client service. – Our spirit must be the spirit of an international team. These are the themes for our future.

A strong Group image, for non-differentiated products like cement, will enable us to enhance perception of the greater value we can offer. The cement market is substantially a local market mainly served by local producers. The added value we offer is our know-how and experience at worldwide level: we want our customers all over

The decision to expand on an international scale, which has immobilised significant resources, is a long-term decision, in my view a winning decision, to be implemented with an awareness of the initial effort involved and the complexity of the measures required. The geographical diversification of our production facilities is vital in an industry where international trading

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is limited by an unfavourable product cost/transport cost ratio. We aim to be present in regions with different economic cycles, in order to maintain steady economic performance over the long-term. Looking at today’s markets, North America is providing satisfactory earnings and demand remains strong. Conversely, the construction industry in many European countries is experiencing difficulties, but hopefully will soon pick up again. Turkey and Morocco are two developing nations, with good prospects for the future. The markets we are most interested in are large emerging markets offering exciting growth rates now and for the long term. Our geographical diversification will enable us to improve our production system, which is overly concentrated in Europe, whose markets have reached maturity.”

[Italcementi Group international expansion has proceeded along a clearly marked path. In ten years, the Group has significantly broadened its geographic diversification: since 1998 it has moved on to emerging markets like Bulgaria, Thailand, India, Kazakhstan and Egypt, and made its debut in China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It has expanded its operations in the USA, Greece, Turkey and Morocco, and is currently present in 22 countries worldwide with a diversified portfolio equally balanced between mature markets and emerging countries.] “We shall also be investing in technology upgrades for our plants in mature markets in order to keep competitiveness high. In Italy, the recent acquisition of Calcestruzzi is designed to achieve a balanced presence in our core business areas. I have said on several

Pagina 8

occasions that enlarging our operations in ready mixed concrete and aggregates is a strategic requirement. Increasingly, this business is becoming the link between the cement producer and the end user. Our production verticalisation was inadequate compared with our competitors, but now we have successfully bridged the gap. We need to enhance the service content transferred from the company to the market, from the cement plants to the market, from our labs to the market. Today’s markets are increasingly dynamic and demanding, even in the apparently traditional

construction materials field. The players that interpret change best will be the winners. We are also paying great attention to ecological issues, to respect for the environment. We are investing growing resources in research and plants to ensure compliance with and where possible anticipate regulations.”

[Italcementi Group is aware of the need to safeguard the environment and build common social values, and is deeply committed to supporting sustainable development. In 2000 Italcementi adhered to the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), a programme

supported by the world’s largest cement producers under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to respond to the challenges of sustainability. This was followed in 2002 by the Group’s adherence to the “Agenda for Action”, an initiative that draws up recommendations and promotes measures to reduce the impact of manufacturing operations on people and the environment. At Group level, a special committee, the Sustainable Development Steering Committee (SDSC), has been set up to support and monitor


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implementation of sustainability strategies throughout the Group, in line with its corporate values and vision.] “Italcementi Group is fully equipped to be one of the best players in the business. Even so, we have to continue working for improvement. I am convinced that an enterprise should seek progress constantly, pursue it with diligence, even obstinacy. This is what I tell all my staff. Italcementi was established in 1864, Ciments Français a few years later. There is a strong sense of belonging

in this Group; in many cases, the son takes the father’s place. And our commitment must be to leave a solid group for the people who come after us, a Group that stands for great values and great ideas. Before finishing, I want to thank all the women and men of Italcementi Group for their contribution over the years.”

* Giampiero Pesenti is Chairman of Italcementi S.p.A.


A Powerful Idea in my Mind by Carlo Pesenti*

Working for a sustainable business in a sustainable society

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Carlo Pesenti

When the Group launched its new corporate identity, its immediate need was to create internal cohesion and build a single worldwide team, as well as to show the outside world the entity that it had become. The Group clearly established a shared ambition, common key values and introduced its now famous motto (A world class local business). Now, 10 years on, the corporate motto is still the focus of Italcementi attention, synthesising its vision and approach, as Carlo Pesenti observes in the article below: “as a world class local business, we are deeply aware of our commitment to a sustainable and long-lasting development”.

T

en years ago Italcementi’s growth and worldwide presence led to unify all of our international companies under one single corporate identity, Italcementi Group. For us, moving to a global identity has meant to enhance our standing as a world class company, to combine the strengths of our local company names with a consistent global Group identification, to become a truly modern group that works together, plays together and wins together. In other words, this process has allowed us to become one team worldwide. Since then, Italcementi Group has been pursuing its internationalisation strategy by acquiring new cement companies in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, China, Kuwait, Thailand, India and Egypt, and by strengthening its presence in Morocco and in the United States. During these ten years our ambition has been

to become one of the most efficient cement manufacturers and distributor in the world. We have tried to achieve this through our professionalism and strong technical know-how which ensures that we can deliver consistently reliable and high quality products around the world. But also defining our goals: technological leadership through a strong innovation effort, efficiency and transparency based on an ethically inspired corporate governance, and economic development integrated with environmental protection and social responsibility. Change is our challenge. We are local and we think global. As a world class local business, we are deeply aware of our commitment to a sustainable and long-lasting development. Thus innovation, corporate governance and sustainable development are today the

key factors of our business strategy. Innovation for our Group means dynamism and proactivity, as well as creativity. We strongly believe that the future will require us to be ever more innovative and dynamic in our approach, not only in the development of new products and services, but also in thinking and behaving proactively so that our company remains among the leaders in its industry. We must embrace change, be open to new ideas and work harder at attracting the best talents. Innovation can make the industrial efficiency of our existing operations stronger, and can support and lead our industrial growth through the capability of designing and providing a competitive offer to our customers with a wider range of products, services and applications in the framework of sustainable development. This is also why our Group is presently applying the Innovation Rate as a new element to be market-oriented. It measures our capability to innovate and meet the market needs. It therefore implies that every year we must innovate more. To support our innovation activity, we have built a strong research network based on the 2 Group’s Research Centres of Bergamo (Italy) and Guerville (France), that work strictly connected with 6 further Research Centres, 30 materials and construction companies and 19 Universities. Through this network the following activities are carried out: collaboration projects on general items, specific bilateral collaboration on industrial objectives, development of technical standards, basic and applied research, as well as skill improvement for internal projects. Along its path to innovation, Italcementi Group has decided

to create the ITCLab, Innovation and Technology Central Laboratory (one of the greatest Research & Innovation Centres in Europe on construction materials). The projects involves the creation of a 11,000 square metre facility, of which 7,500 square metres have been allotted exclusively for research laboratories. ITCLab was designed by architect Richard Meier and is set within the “Kilometro Rosso” Science & Technology Park just outside Bergamo, a new pole where a number of multidisciplinary research initiatives will take place, operate by both private companies and public bodies and involving around 3,000 people over the next 10 years. The ITCLab building will have a low impact on the environment. The entire structure will be constructed using a concrete developed by Italcementi using a photocatalytic, self-cleaning and pollution-reducing cement. ITCLab is set to be a reference for sustainable architecture. The objective is to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the strictest and most important American certification programme for energy and environment in the building


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sector. The new ITCLab is for us one of the flags of the present vision of our Group seeking a global leadership also on innovation. Our second strategic axis, as already said, is corporate governance. I firmly believe that the adoption of good rules of governance goes hand in hand with the dissemination of a business culture whose objectives are efficiency, transparency, appropriate management and control efficacy. Our Group’s corporate governance is firstly a system of shared values. Our recent Charter of Values is the most visible synthesis of all the values we have built together in our

recent past. The Charter of Values reiterates the basic principles of our Codes of Governance, and closely links them to our sustainability targets. The values included in the Charter have already been part of our corporate wealth and culture for a long time. With the Charter of Values one specific aspect of Italcementi Group’s culture has been emphasised: the way to achieve successfully our corporate mission is to consider the individual as the focal point of our way of thinking, even before our way of operating. This is why our Charter of Values is inspired by some fundamental international

reference standards such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Placing the individual at the centre of our vision means, particularly in present times, integrating economic development with equal opportunities, participation, quality of life and dialogue with the stakeholders. The Charter of Values states the basic principles underlying the Group’s governance model. It is the point where the personal ethics of each employee and those of the company come together in placing the individual as the basis of corporate development. The Charter of Values does not replace or overlap the Codes of Governance which have already been approved by Italcementi and which are now fully in effect. Indeed it summarises and strengthens the general principles contained in these Codes. It is the framework document outlining the commitments made by the company and by the women and men belonging to the Group. This document, including Italcementi Group’s general principles of ethics, is designed to guide staff in the behaviour with clients, institutions and public administrations, competitors, shareholders, suppliers, markets and non-governmental

organisations representing the many interests generated by the Group’s business. We place honesty, transparency and integrity at the heart of our business. We have earned the trust of our partners and our people by being transparent and accountable for our actions. We honour our commitments and take responsibility for our actions. We also believe in the value of diversity and work hard to combine our global expertise with local understanding. We respect the many different cultures that we work with and know from experience that we can learn from each other. Long term partnerships have been and will continue to be the foundation for our lasting growth. The strong sense of belonging that our people have is linked to the respect we have always demonstrated towards them and the respect they show each other. Moreover a strong sense of responsibility has been a defining value of our company since its foundation 140 years ago. Responsibility towards our people for their safety and well-being, responsibility to our stakeholders for performance and results, and responsibility to our local communities for their prosperity. We believe that


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respect of diversity can lead to common growth. From this point of view the many players from different cultural and local identities that currently compose Italcementi Group, operating plants in 22 countries, are a great opportunity for us. Understanding specific local aspects and meeting the expectations and needs of the various territories and local communities helps our business to put down roots and to remain in countries and in markets as reliable, responsible player in the long term. Extending to local situations the common values of a great industrial group that bases its operations on guarantees of human rights allows us to play a part in raising general quality of life and therefore confirms the role of our presence as an engine of development and modernity. This integration between the values of local identity and culture and the general and common values of the Group today inspires our vision and allows us to glimpse new paths and new opportunities. To be a great industrial group that feeds its global strategy with specific local aspects: this is our challenge. Italcementi Group’s corporate governance is also the establishment of a well defined decision making structure, with all relevant bodies, leading to the listing of a series of ethical as well as more typically

managerial rules, principles and behaviours that must be applied in all our affiliated companies. Finally corporate governance means the adoption of a consistent system of policies, codes, organised procedures and behaviours complying with local legislations and best practices. From this last point of view, I am proud to say that our management compliance attitude is today inspired by the idea that performing the right activities is the way to obtain a competitive advantage, rather then a compulsory way defined by legally binding obligations. In the last few months a Group corporate governance action plan was launched with relevant tools and deadlines to achieve the ambitious target of aligning organisations, processes, procedures and best practices of all operating subsidiaries within the Group. It is now time to focus on Italcementi Group’s commitment to sustainable development. To this regard, I want to stress that our vision forces us to give great consideration to sustainability as the ideal framework for our long-term industrial growth. And I also want to express the pride of a company that is fully aware of its social responsibility and its capacity to innovate in order to improve quality of life and environment at local and global level. Sustainability is an excellent framework for our commitment to economic

prosperity in both the developed and the developing areas of the world. It actually includes commitment in both considerable reduction in our impact on ecosystems and social progress that promotes improved standard of living in local communities. We strongly believe that the long-term success of our business depends on our ability to meet the growing expectations of our stakeholders in terms of wealth creation, protection of ecosystems and assurance of healthy and productive lives for human beings. Integrating financial, economic, environmental and social performance is a great challenge for Italcementi Group, as well as an excellent opportunity for improving our innovation efforts. A vision of sustainable development, that seeks to integrate profitable economic performance with protecting the environment and improving the quality of life of present and future generations, is fully coherent with Italcementi Group’s strategies. In the past Italcementi Group has developed a growing awareness of the need to focus on environment protection and to operate in a socially responsible way. Therefore the Group has always sought to conduct its business throughout the world in accordance with environmental legislation, promoting environmental standards that meet

and at times exceed local environmental legislation. Italcementi Group has also implemented a strategy for social responsibility with specific concern for health and safety. Constant attention to safety aspects, concerning both the environment and health in the workplace, has always been a characteristic of our Group. But we know that even the most advanced safety policy can only be a partial response to the wider social role that global market development has given to business. In this new scenario, we must be aware of the social impacts our activities have on stakeholders at local, national and global level. We must give strong priority to open dialogue with all those involved in our activities. For us this means that shareholders and stakeholders must be put on an equal standing and afforded the same degree of attention. We confirm our long-term commitment to sustainable development. Italcementi Group’s co-chairmanship of the Cement Sustainable Initiative launched in 2000 by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development increases our awareness and responsibility. Within this initiative, in 2002 we signed the ‘Agenda for Action’, the first formal commitment binding cement companies to sustainable development. We are perfectly aware of our priorities and we


intend to take concrete actions to put them into practice. First of all, we want to give our contribution to tackle climate change through a growing effort in the reduction and management of our greenhouse gases emissions. In 2001 we have formalised a specific Group Environment Policy. Moreover, in our sustainability strategy, environment protection must go hand in hand with the safeguard of our people. Employee health and safety are therefore a second priority of our Group. In 2000 we launched the “Zero Accidents� Project to strengthen our already strict and robust safety policy, demonstrating a strong commitment to safeguarding the health and therefore the quality of life of all people involved in our activities. Our third priority is to minimize the impact of our industrial activity, taking care of the needs of local communities. For us, the path to sustainability does not only mean a multi-stakeholder approach to be technically achieved through proper tools and procedures. It involves us as human beings with a strong will to create widespread conditions of well being in respect of diversity, cultural identities and natural resources. This is the powerful idea we have in mind: to go beyond the basics of ethical business practices and embrace our role as global citizens and key partners in building a sustainable future.

* Carlo Pesenti is Chief Executive Officer of Italcementi S.p.A.

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Winning the Local-to-Global Challenge by John Williamson*

The first steps in a new identity

Group an identity that was different to the other players on the market. We had to create an identity that represented the full strength and power of the Group at international level.

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John Williamson

The following is an account by John Williamson. As a Director at Wolff Olins, he led the project for the creation and application of the Italcementi Group corporate identity. Wolff Olins is a world-famous London-based brand consulting agency with over 40 years experience in the creation and management of brands. Today, John Williamson has retired from Wolff Olins, but we want to publish his account to illustrate the guiding principles of the Group corporate identity project. Williamson was the person at Italcementi’s side when it began constructing its identity and making the move from local to global. Ten years on, we can safely say the challenge has been won.

it should express the company’s strategy and its creativity; and of course it should differentiate the organisation from its competitors. When we started work on the project, we began by looking at the company’s identity as it was then. I remember sitting there, listening to Mr Pesenti talking about Italcementi as a group, and thinking that in actual fact there was no link between the identity and the idea of Italcementi Group as a multinational organisation: the identity as it was then masked the potential of the Group and its operations.

M

y job is to help companies create an identity that is practical and meets their entrepreneurial needs. We have had the good fortune to work with a team of people from Italcementi to develop a corporate identity programme. You can judge for yourselves what the identity is, how effective it is. Although it is not up to me to say so, I believe this identity is a design milestone, a very powerful identity, and I hope it reflects the organisation as it actually is rather than an artificial image of it. I want to talk about why the identity is as it is, what it is and how it was created. Clearly, an organisation’s identity is not suddenly produced out of thin air, it is developed to serve a functional purpose: the identity should represent simultaneously the “rational” side of the organisation and, equally important, its “emotional” side;

It is vital to be different to everyone else if you want to create a truly unique, memorable and distinguishing identity. The organisation’s symbol has to be unique, something that no one else has, that will be easy to remember even if you only see it for a few seconds. It has to be an unmistakeable distinguishing element, a vehicle for the organisation’s image, values and ideas. We began with two considerations. 1. The structure had to change. We knew the identity had to stand out compared with the Group’s market competitors. 2. We also knew an identity is effective only if it successfully projects the company’s vision, if it communicates the strengths that make a company a winner. So the starting point for the entire identity development process was the Group’s vision, where vision signifies what the organisation wants to be and to become. The Italcementi Group vision referred to a very strong organisation with a clear idea of the direction it was taking and the strategies it wanted to put in place.

Italcementi Group Vision

We all agreed that the identity needed to be changed and made more effective. And naturally we all agreed that an identity is based in part on differentiation, on establishing that you are not like anyone else, that you are your own company with your own standards and your own vision of the future. Then we looked at Italcementi Group’s main competitors, their organisational structure, the image they projected, the way they presented themselves, their choice of colours, symbols and characters. We had to give Italcementi

Our shared ambition To become the most effective and most efficient cement manufacturer and distributor in the world Our future Change is our challenge Our approach We are local, we think global Our way of working Technological leadership is our goal Our spirit One team worldwide


The foundation of the vision was the idea of a shared ambition to make Italcementi Group the most effective and efficient cement manufacturer in the world: the lowest cost producer. The Group’s future was assured by an on-going capacity for change: a challenge accepted by the organisation and leveraged as a competitive advantage. Its approach to the future in terms of individual nationalities was local—cement is naturally a “local business”—but in general terms, Group terms, the approach was global: we think global to develop advantages for all our operations and, simultaneously, a single, shared approach for the entire organisation. The way of working focused on technological leadership and customer service. The spirit inspiring the whole Group, the sole objective of the organisation, was to become a single worldwide team. The very simple ideas of “objective”, “vision”, “organisation” were the starting point on which we began to build the Italcementi identity. Having defined the vision, we started to think about a symbol to represent that vision visually. And we began in rather a strange way, with nature, how we could create a simple representation of the organisation in nature: nature had to be included in the Italcementi Group identity given that cement comes from the earth and is closely linked with the environment. As soon as we thought about a group identity associated with the concept of nature, we came up with the spiral: a shape frequently found in nature—think about the Fibonacci numbers, for example, or the fascinating logarithmic spiral of the nautilus shell—and often seen in the limestone from which cement is produced.

But the spiral is also a geometric figure that evolves according to a mathematical formula, a reference to the high technological content of the Group’s operations, and consequently to the production process. The spiral suggests movement, growth and technology, basically it is growth, continuous development.

So we had found a symbol, the spiral, to represent both nature—the raw material—and technology—the product. Since the spiral is an open symbol, which begins from the centre and extends outwards, almost to infinity, it represents perfectly the concept of change that is the foundation of any organisation, a decisive element in achieving successful results. Even more important, the spiral encompasses the idea of progress towards an infinite finishing line. It represents the goal of indefinite growth, which is the objective of every company.

If you think about the universe and the form of the galaxies, you can see that the spiral also encompasses the concept of centre and periphery, and so is well suited to representing an organisation that intends to be both global and local. The centre of the spiral represents attention to detail, to the local; its extension represents the Group as a whole.

Of course the symbol also had to have an attribute of permanence. We wanted it to be a symbol that would last, that could be engraved in stone or even cast in cement, to represent the permanence of the material produced by the company and obviously the duration of the company itself, so we decided to create a three-dimensional rather than flat spiral.

One of the main reasons for the choice of the spiral as the organisation’s symbol was that it is a singularly powerful symbol. There are very few symbols you need to see only once to remember them, and this is one of them. The spiral is forceful, powerful and

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precise, like the Italcementi Group organisation: a shape often found in the rock from which cement is made, that also suggests the movement of cement mixers, mills, kilns, and so on … the tools of the Group’s business. Having established the spiral as our symbol, we moved on to choose a colour that would support the symbol, unite the organisation and represent it forcefully in the external world. We examined an infinite series of possibilities, but finally, given Italcementi Group’s strong presence in the Mediterranean, we chose the warm rich colour of the sunflower, creating a special colour called Italcementi Gold.

alphabets other than Latin and would work well with all the names of the companies in the Group.

Frutiger A corporate identity has to be a complete system that can be easily applied top-down, bottom-up and across the entire organisation; so name, symbol, font and colour had to be organised into a structure consistent with the Group’s vision. We created a system comprising the spiral (always placed with the opening at top left), the company name, the Italcementi Group endorsement and at the top a Gold rule line balancing the spiral and assisting the insertion of the company name. This compositionally effective system was developed for use by all the Group companies, including those whose names appear in two languages, so that every unit in the organisation—in America, in Africa, in Asia or in Europe—could identify with the Group and contribute to the realisation of its vision: a single team with a single spirit.

This colour is extremely intense and effective, indeed it can be overwhelming on its own, so it is best used to highlight rather than as the main colour, to enhance other colours. So we obtained our palette of greys, white, black and gold, each one complementing the others for a powerful visual style.

gold

light grey dark grey

white

black

Once we had our symbol, we also needed to find a common font for the names of the Group companies, since graphical uniformity would help strengthen the Group identity by drawing attention to the unifying elements rather than to the differences. Our choice of font was Frutiger: a very strong, incisive modern typeface, that can also be used by

So we had developed a system, the Italcementi identity system. The next stage was an analysis of all the possible applications. How the Italcementi Group identity would work on a sign and how it applied to each individual company. How it was perceived by the Group employees and how it conveyed the motto of “a single team, a single worldwide spirit” when applied to uniforms that reflect the spirit of the Group and carry it forward. And so on, up to the market, applying the identity to the lorries and the other vehicles used by the organisation, assembling symbol and colour in a system that would work for all Italcementi Group companies all over the world. I think the power of this identity is obvious: a world class identity for a local business, an identity that succeeds perfectly in capturing the vision of an organisation that is moving ahead as a worldwide Group.

* John Williamson has a very impressive curriculum. A Director at Wolff Olins, he has handled major corporate identity studies for companies of the calibre of Saab, Sony, Unilever, Panasonic, Audi and Lufthansa. He was also a specialist in brand application for countries and cities, and one of his last projects was to develop an image for the Tokyo underground railway. Today, he has retired from Wolff Olins and lives in the Surrey countryside, where he grows roses.

Of course, the real test was how the identity could be adapted to the cement sack, where its application was also a commercial and economic question, a question of cost; the printing involved had to be as simple as possible. The challenge was to create an identity that was not only easy to remember and represented the Group ambition, but was also economically viable when printed on the millions of cement sacks the company produces every year. The result was excellent: a very powerful identity, presented on a very simple “medium”, the sack.


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Pagina 17

Spiralling Success by Marina Leopardi*

The story behind the Italcementi Group corporate identity

Marina Leopardi

The following is an account by Marina Leopardi, the Senior Consultant at Wolff Olins who worked on the development of the Italcementi Group corporate identity in 1997. Leopardi describes the background to the project and the process which Wolff Olins undertook.

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talcementi bought its rival Ciments Français overnight. Radically different management styles and national antagonisms meant serious integration problems. Wolff Olins united the Group with a new vision and brand, with excellent cultural and corporate results. Today Italcementi is truly “A world class local business”. Italcementi’s merger made it one of the world’s largest cement manufacturers. Wolff Olins created the identity of the new Group and helped it to integrate its national businesses into a powerful worldwide network with a shared vision and purpose. Background The cement, ready mixed concrete and aggregates industry, once a relatively stable business sector, had undergone a series of major shakeups. There was pressure to improve productivity and to innovate. Formerly dominated by family

owned businesses, the industry had started to consolidate into large companies. Cement making was going global, which required huge capital investment and stronger market differentiation. The industry was led by major players such as Holderbank (Swiss), Lafarge (French), Cemex (Mexican), HeidelbergCement (German) and Italcementi (Italian). The question they all faced was how to meet the financial and marketing challenges required to take the lead in new expanding markets around the world. Italcementi, the leading Italian cement manufacturer, joined this league when it took over Ciments Français in 1992. Overnight the much smaller Italian company acquired a large overseas operation—16,000 people

working in 10 countries—and became one of the world’s largest cement manufacturers. Different businesses and cultures The Group’s major companies, Italcementi and Ciments Français, had very different business cultures. Italcementi, founded in 1864 in the town of Bergamo in Northern Italy, was one of Italy’s most respected family businesses. Its management style was highly centralised and conservative. Ciments Français, was also over 100 years old, had diversified internationally and had a more open culture. But its expansive approach to acquiring overseas operations eventually led to financial difficulties. After the acquisition, the challenge was to bring together not only the different

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cultures, histories and traditions of Italcementi and Ciments Français, but also to integrate those of the other international businesses to build a strong united group. While sensitive to cultural differences, Wolff Olins needed to establish a consensus around which the players could successfully integrate. Moving to a global identity As one of the major world players in its industry, the Italcementi Group had to think globally and to look the part. A strong and distinctive image, uniformly applied, signals to

the market that each business shares the strength of an international group. In developing and learning to manage a global identity it was important to retain the goodwill of the local businesses. In the system Wolff Olins devised, local companies kept their names under the umbrella of the global identity. Steps in the programme • Defining the vision. We helped Italcementi to identify its core values and to establish a shared ambition to become the most effective and

efficient cement manufacturer and distributor in the world. Working in all the Group countries we helped Italcementi to communicate the company’s new vision everywhere. • Launching the vision. We took the message around the world with a series of workshops and roadshows. The vision was explained in a vision booklet, video, posters and newsletters. • The new identity. We created a new logo and visual identity for Italcementi which are modern and distinctive. The identity has


a structure which integrates the national businesses and assists the Group to manage future acquisitions successfully. A spiral, the identity symbol, is a natural form found in the rock from which cement is made. It also stands for growth and progress. We were involved in implementing the new identity across the Group from stationery and literature to signage, trucks, equipment and buildings. The result The Group has very successfully established a shared vision and spirit with a sense of pride in the technical expertise that make it commercially competitive. The identity played a major role in building the international profile of the Group, and initial fears that local producers might resent having to adopt it (while retaining their own names) have disappeared in the face of the great enthusiasm with which it has been greeted in every country. The higher profile of the Group and the increased productivity that shared technical know-how has achieved mean that in every country where Italcementi Group is present its local producers are stronger and more profitable. The brand has played an important role in helping such perceptions and cooperation to arise and has been the major catalyst of successful change.

* Marina Leopardi is an independent Brand Consultant specialising in advising Italian companies. Her clients include Edison, Eni, Luxottica, Indesit Company, Merloni Termosanitari and Technogym. She was the Senior Consultant at Wolff Olins who worked on the development of the new Italcementi Group corporate identity in 1997.

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Beyond Brand – The Big Idea by Robert Jones*

We have to move beyond brand vocabulary and beyond brand thinking. We have to get closer to the truth of the organisation

like Amazon and Yahoo! Brand created value, in trillions of dollars. And it created a great deal of public interest: in the autumn of 2000, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum put on a show called ‘Brand.new’, devoted to the iconography of brand.

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Robert Jones

The following article is an excerpt from the book ‘The Big Idea’ (Profile Books, 2000) and was published in ‘Design Management Journal’, October 2001, by Robert Jones, Consultant Director, © Wolff Olins. It argues that any organisation that wants to stand out must stand for something compelling and resonant.

D

esigning identity, designing brand: it’s starting to sound like a tired litany. And the buzzwords around branding are becoming seriously devalued. We have to move beyond this vocabulary, and find something more resonant, more exciting. Design must be less about corporate identity (the way an organisation looks) and more about corporate idea (what it stands for, and what it does). In this new century, ideas—radical, social, tangible things—are all that will matter. Towards brand First there was identity. Back in the heyday of the corporation—the golden age from the 1950s to the 1970s—organisations became more and more self-conscious about their corporate identity. Persuaded by Walter Landor in San Francisco, and by Wally Olins—founder of Wolff Olins, the firm where I work—in London, businesses started to take identity very seriously. They saw the value of design

work that could rationalise their ramifications, amplify their intentions, humanise their mechanisms. This was ‘strategy made visible’, in Olins’s words: design that could make even conglomerates coherent. Great work was done by and for organisations like IBM, Levi’s, Olivetti and BT. And then, some time in the 1990s, something extraordinary happened. Suddenly, the word ‘brand’ took over. Every corporate identity company—indeed, almost every design company—now calls itself a brand consultancy. ‘Brand’ felt somehow more real, more commercial, more urgent than ‘corporate identity’. The disciplines of product branding were quickly applied to services and to corporations. In Europe, Orange, the mobile phone network, set a new standard in service branding. Soon every board director was asking ‘what are we doing about our brand?’ And around the world hundreds of new brands emerged from nowhere—whether real, like Nokia and Starbucks, or virtual,

Against brand But now, people are starting to feel disillusioned. There are too many brands around, all of them fresh, shiny and happy, and they’re promising much more than their companies can deliver. The surface dream is very different from the messy reality inside the company. Branding has moved too far away from its home territory, consumer goods. Professional firms, public agencies and charities, trying to brand themselves, have faced dissent from within: their employees are deeply mistrustful of the idea of brand, thinking of it as a mere sugar-coating. Inside all sorts of commercial companies, too many managers are using ‘brand’ as a magic formula, wishfully thinking that almost any business problem can be overcome merely by creating a new brand or repositioning an old one. At the same time, there’s a growing public suspicion of brand. Some now see brand as manipulative: a sinister set of corporate ideologies, invading our minds, particularly the minds of the young and impressionable. Others accuse brand of cynicism: it’s the acceptable face that conceals corporate corruption and malpractice. And many worry that the world’s big brands are destroying the differences and surprises that make life worth living. Land in any big city, or so it seems, and the first things you’ll see will be the local Starbucks and the local Gap. We’re reaching a turning point. The world still loves brands,

but it’s also starting to mistrust them. We’re still seduced, but we now know that we’re being seduced, and we’re not sure how we feel about that. All of this presents a serious challenge for the designers of brand. Where do we go next? Beyond brand The answer is that we have to move beyond brand vocabulary and beyond brand thinking. We mustn’t any longer be the communicators of empty promises, the purveyors of consistent but synthetic ‘brand experiences’. We must no longer be the documenters of ‘brand values’ that are merely wishful thinking. We have to get closer to the truth of the organisation. So where do we look? Where’s the truth about the inside of an organisation? Its vision? No, that too is a tainted word. Every organisation has gone through an elaborate exercise to articulate its vision (or mission)—and most have ended up with dismayingly similar sets of words, the product of endless compromise. What about the corporate ideology—the ‘company way’—charted so expertly by Collins and Porras in Built to Last? No: ideology is a rigid, twentieth-century notion which today’s freethinking employees are reluctant to sign up to. And both vision and ideology are too limited in their ambit: they both attempt to speak to insiders, but have little resonance for customers. What we need is something deeper than brand, more substantial than vision, less rigid than ideology: some kind of idea that both customers and employees can believe in. That’s what we’re now exploring at Wolff Olins. You could sum up this evolution by saying that Wolff Olins has moved from corporate identity to corporate idea.


Big ideas Could this make any kind of sense? Do organisations really have corporate ideas? And if so, what do they look like? To answer these questions, I researched 50 organisations that we at Wolff Olins admire—50 companies that look from the outside as though they might just have this thing that’s deeper than brand, and more substantial than vision. My collection of companies spanned Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. It included commercial and non-profit enterprises. And it covered a wide range of business sectors, including both business-to-consumer and business-to-business. Alphabetically, the list started at 3i, the London-based venture capitalists, and ended with Wal-Mart: you could hardly imagine two more different companies. I interviewed the leaders of most of these organisations. And what I found first was massive confirmation that, whatever this thing is, it’s not vision and it’s not brand. Take Tesco, the market-leading British supermarket chain, for example. Terry Leahy, its chief executive, runs an extraordinarily high-performing business. What drives that business? It’s not Tesco’s brand statement, ‘every little helps’. Nor is it Tesco’s vision statement—carried by

every member of staff on a credit-card-sized reminder—which uses the same words as a thousand other companies, about lifetime customer loyalty. The more Terry Leahy and I talked about Tesco, the more clearly I saw that Tesco’s secret is its attitude. He summed it up in the simple words ‘we like our customers’. Throughout its 80 years, Tesco has liked its customers. It hasn’t smothered them with affection, but it’s been straightforwardly friendly. It’s treated them as equals. There’s never been any social distinction between Tesco and its customers. And this attitude has enabled Tesco to move upmarket with its traditionally working-class customers. ‘We’ve always identified with our customers,’ says Terry Leahy. ‘The British working class moved upmarket with us—it’s hard to tell who led who.’ Time and again, I found organisations with a strong attitude or belief—something shared by insiders and customers—that went deeper than any explicit statement of brand or vision. Often it was hard to put into words. But I began to feel convinced that big corporate ideas do exist. Almost always, the idea was deeply rooted in the organisation’s history. While I was writing the book, Hewlett-Packard launched its new big idea—’invent’—a

beautifully simple summary of what Hewlett-Packard, at its best, has always believed in. ‘Invent’ goes right back to the creation of Hewlett-Packard in the 1939. Hewlett-Packard employees believe that invention is what they’re there to do. Hewlett-Packard customers believe that invention is what they’ll get. It’s a simple idea, but it’s big: deeper than brand, more substantial than vision. So if these big ideas do exist, what are they like? Do they have anything in common? Out of my research, three features emerged. First, big ideas are radical. Organisations with a big idea aim to change the world, not to accommodate themselves to the status quo. Sometimes the radicalism is political. John Lewis, for instance, the British retail group, is an employee-owned co-operative. Its big idea is nothing less than ‘a better form of capitalism’. Sometimes the radicalism aims to change the way an industry operates. Go, the low-cost European airline, wants to eliminate deference—to get rid of all the class distinctions that most airlines love to impose on their customers—and to treat everyone (customers and staff) equally well. And sometimes the radicalism just wants to change how people feel—like Disney and its simple big idea of ‘fun’.

Second, big ideas are social. They’re the property of everyone in and around the organisation—not the prerogative of the chief executive. IKEA’s customers, for instance, own IKEA’s idea of ‘democratising design’ just as much as Ingvar Kamprad, the company’s founder. As many as 40,000 Saturn owners will drive across America to attend ‘homecoming weekends’ with fellow Saturn-ites at the company’s headquarters in Spring Hill, Tennessee. They all believe in, and participate in, Saturn’s idea about ‘harmony’. Apple users aren’t just users, they’re fanatics. Even a company as sober and serious as McKinsey, the management consultants, shares its idea about ‘rigour’ among its partners, its staff, its clients and its (immensely influential) alumni. Third, big ideas are tangible. You can feel them when you encounter these organisations. Indeed, they’re made out of actions, not words—out of the whole way in which the organisation lives, not out of its latest advertising strapline. Herman Miller’s big idea about ‘design’ is palpable in everything it’s ever made. And big ideas aren’t nice, soft, fluffy things: they give their organisation a core of steel. They give everyone in them something immensely demanding to live up to. ‘If you don’t want to work in a demanding environment,’ declares Go’s Barbara Cassani, ‘you don’t want to work for me’. Big value This is all very interesting. But does it matter? Is a big idea essential or merely nice? Do you need a big idea? We’d argue yes, because organisations need, as never before, to capture the imaginations of both employees and customers. Never before have markets been so

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competitive, and customers so fickle. But even more importantly, it’s never been harder to attract and keep the best people. And these constituencies—customers and employees—overlap. Any organisation needs to have one big thing to say to both groups. Look at BP, Europe’s largest energy company. This is a huge and serious enterprise, and it’s taking its corporate idea very seriously. In summer 2000, it announced that it was (quite literally) going to stand for something: ‘beyond petroleum’. Why take this step? Because its environmentally-aware customers are suspicious of oil companies. And so are its potential employees—and BP’s future depends on attracting the best of each year’s graduates. BP knows that it has no option but to find and communicate—and then live—a big idea. Big ideas, when they work, magnify drive inside the organisation. They get everyone moving in the same direction. They slash all the costs associated with inefficiency, duplicated effort and corporate drift. Tesco’s Terry Leahy knows that customer service is what it should be in his stores in Korea, not because of expensive procedure manuals and expensive central policing, but because staff there simply understand the spirit of Tesco. And big ideas magnify desire outside the organisation. They get customers not just to buy, but to buy into, its services or products. They create communities of customers who come back for more, and who tell their friends about it too. No fewer than 95% of Saturn owners sell Saturn to friends. And Apple, when it rediscovered its original big idea and produced the iMac, saw revenues soar: over two years, a billion-dollar loss was converted into a $600 million profit.

But big ideas impact on more than just today’s profit. They safeguard the future too. In an age when products and technologies can be instantly copied, an organisation’s big idea is its only permanent differentiator. These days, anyone can start an airline, but no-one else can be Virgin. And because a big idea is bigger than the thing the organisation does, it gives the organisation freedom to diversify, to enter new markets, even to change its business model completely. Virgin’s big idea has taken it from record shops into air travel, financial services and mobile phones. This kind of platform for the future is what stockmarkets now value—much more than shortterm profits. Orange has yet to make an after-tax profit, but it’s worth at least £30 billion. That valuation is based on the market’s assessment of Orange’s future ability to fend off competitors and to diversify its offer—on the size, in other words, of its corporate idea. Part of the power of an idea like this is that it continually inspires new services, products, strategies, business models. Fannie Mae’s belief in ‘home-ownership’ has widened its mortgage product range. BP’s ‘beyond petroleum’ will drive innovation in solar power. Virgin’s iconoclasm inspires it to move into new markets that need an iconoclast. Amazon’s idea about ‘completeness’ is making it, week by week, into the widest-ranging internet store. Strategy guru Gary Hamel argues in his latest book, Leading the Revolution, that organisations must reinvent to survive, and reinvent in a non-linear way. Corporate ideas form the manifesto for these kinds of corporate revolutions. Beyond corporate So, we at Wolff Olins have made an evolutionary journey from

corporate identity to corporate idea. Of course, the change isn’t as dramatic as it might appear—our work on corporate identity has always been founded in an examination of what Wally Olins calls a ‘central idea’. But nevertheless, it’s an important change of emphasis. Now, though, there’s another change ahead: one much less easy to see or understand or put into words. We’re going to have to drop the word ‘corporate’. Big ideas, as we’ve already seen, belong to all of us: they’re a social property, not a corporate property. Organisations are organisms that include customers, suppliers and investors—not just the ‘company men’ who appear on the organisation chart. Power lies increasingly with customers and employees, not just stockholders. Businesses now belong—emotionally if not literally—to all of us. The corporation, we would argue, is a twentieth-century concept: the new century will see very different, less formal, less structured kinds of groupings. All of which makes design management seem an old-fashioned idea. Our role will be to work with an organisation, help it find its big idea, and then set it free—allow it to grow and change. It won’t be

about managing, defining, controlling. It certainly won’t be about ‘corporate identity manuals’, or their more fashionable descendants, ‘brand books’. Maybe our clients will be workers and shoppers rather than makers and sellers. It will be a new kind of design, and it won’t feel at all like management. We won’t be designing identities or designing brands. We’ll be designing ideas, and helping make them operational. Our responsibility will be to nurture real ideas—not marketing fluff, or wishful thinking, or sugar coating. Certainly our eyes will be on the difference we make to the world, not just the difference we make to a client’s market capitalisation. The world will expect nothing less of us. * Robert Jones is Head of Consulting at Wolff Olins. His clients include Abbey, Credit Suisse, Société Générale, Winterthur, Accenture, Cameron McKenna and Spencer Stuart, National Trust, Royal Mail and the Samaritans. Jones is a trustee of the National Trust, Britain’s most distinguished conservation charity. He started his working life as a research fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge, where his specialisation was philosophy and literary criticism. He then helped create the Cambridge based change management consultancy Baddeley Associates, where his clients included BT and ICI. Robert Jones joined Wolff Olins in 1993. He has a double first from Cambridge University.


Branding Today Interview with Lee Coomber*

The evolution from corporate identity to branding

choices. Oil companies have always competed on price, but have developed some of the world’s strongest brands simply because we all have a choice and love to exercise it. Without the brand what do these businesses have to compete with, what provides the difference?

Lee Coomber

The following is an interview with Lee Coomber, the original designer of the Italcementi Group spiral and visual identity system. He talks about how the corporate identity business has evolved to become something much deeper and stronger: branding, and also about how he was inspired to create the famous spiral logo. Corporate identity life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years. Even so, this is actually longer than the average life of a company today, given the rising mortality rate in the corporate sector. With all the mergers and acquisitions in pharmaceuticals, finance, services and utilities, the typical company life cycle is just a few years. Does it still make sense to talk about corporate identity? We tend these days to talk about branding, rather than about corporate identity. The term corporate identity has generally been associated with the use of a common way of identifying businesses, primarily visual. But a good brand is something deeper, encompassing a company’s culture, environments, products and services. Identity gets you so far but is a pale substitute for a really strong brand. We think brands can last, and can survive corporate changes: think for example of Audi or Orange. Today the rate of

change is faster than ever and the best defence against that is a really strong brand. This seems to be true for ‘cult’ brands, but for mass consumer items (milk, petrol, …) aren’t the factors that count more banal: price, proximity? The two examples you have chosen make the point for me. There have never been more choices and varieties of milk available in the market: powdered milk, soya milk, low to high fat content, fair-trade milk, organic milk, locally produced milk, flavoured milks and enriched milk. Brands help people navigate through those

Corporate identity obviously is not intended solely for an external audience, it is also, and in many cases primarily, intended for the company’s employees. But in today’s rapidly changing world, where companies come and go, workers are becoming more mobile too. Frequent job changes, part-time work, teleworking: how do all these factors affect the worker’s ‘identification’ with the company employing him? Skills shortage is one of the main threats to business growth. Attracting and keeping the best talent is one of, if not the most important, challenge facing any company. Pride and recognition come with being clear on what you stand for and what makes you stand out: employees and customers like and respond to this sense of purpose. The opportunity to work for a business that your friends and family know and understand, and even respect, is a very potent attraction for anyone—whether you’re a traditional full-time worker, or have a looser relationship with the company.

In our global world, the number of multinationals with operations in emerging countries continues to rise. Is it possible for a shared vision to take root internally and externally in areas that culturally are so different to the industrialised nations? Good ideas are universal. So are good brands: they are everywhere because they appeal across boundaries. Of course there are always cultural sensitivities but these tend to be in the detail not the big picture. Put very simply, traditionally corporate identity meant giving a single, strong face to a multi-faceted organisation. This was true while businesses operated largely on the domestic market and treated their foreign subsidiaries as colonial outposts. But things have changed and now the bulk of production and other activities of many multinationals often takes place overseas. What effect does this have on corporate identity? What is best, a strong, unified image, or a bland and cautious ‘lowest common denominator’ that won’t offend anyone, or, even better, an outright declaration of diversity, where the common denominator is the lack of common features? Unified and diversified: both models work, with GE and HSBC in one camp, and RBS and Unilever in the other. There is a tendency for single brand corporations to be valued more highly than the diversified corporations, but that doesn’t always follow. Bland is rarely good. Being cautious just doesn’t make sense it doesn’t add value. It stands to reason that if you are like everyone else and look like everyone else you make the

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same money as everyone else. Going for a slice of a large market with conviction is good business, but going ‘bland’ and trying to appeal to the whole market makes you vulnerable to lots of smaller competitors. Overall, we think the trend is towards greater diversification, with organisations working and talking in different ways in different places. But the greater the diversity, the more essential it is to have a core idea to unify things. We think the brands of the future won’t be like a single tune: they will be more like a theme with many variations. The growing numbers of mergers/acquisitions/joint ventures and the convergence/flattening in products and prices on

an increasingly competitive global market suggest a more generic, indefinite corporate identity concept, to guarantee greater longevity and adaptability. Is this the end for a more audacious design approach? No. If a theme is to have many variations, it needs to be very strong, memorable, and inspirational. More than ever, corporations need to be different and assert their differences. The need for differentiation becomes greater the more similar the product and price. We see this with telecoms companies who are all selling access to airtime. In a different way you see brand impacting strongly in the financial markets, which are influenced by perception and instinct just as customers are.

Visual Identity: the 1997 Q&A Why have a Group identity? A Group identity makes it possible to assert the Group’s unity and the international dimension of its business. It enables each staff member to share a common vision and to feel part of the same company. This improves the efficiency of our action as perceived from the outside, and heightens our performance through a more rational use of internal resources and the enhancement of the Group’s assets. Why in 1997? Over the previous few years, we had been working at building a Group, at integrating our business and organisation. Up to then, we had reached a certain level of integration and we were ready to apply a common Group identity. What is the point of a ‘Vision’? It is essential in defining a common idea of our future and common objectives. Our ambition for the future is summed up in the ‘Vision’; it gives a sense to and motivates the work done by each staff member in the Group, and shows the direction in which we are heading.

Is it true to say that the future of corporate identity no longer lies in the internal and external image of the company (how it appears/wishes to appear) but in its behaviour towards customers, suppliers, employees and the local and global environment (how it acts/what it does)? It has always been the true that how organisations act and what they do is more important than appearance. The difference is now that, with greater choice and access, customers can more easily vote with their feet. It is also true to say that the range of issues that all businesses need to get right and be seen to be getting right has greatly increased: environment, ethics, equal opportunities to name a few.

So can we agree with Robert Jones “what we need is something deeper than brand, more substantial than vision, less rigid than ideology: some kind of idea that both customers and employees can believe in���? Robert Jones is right in saying that organisations need to understand what they are intrinsically about and respond to our need to express ourselves in what we do and what we believe in. What we buy, and what we buy into, is all part of that process of expressing ourselves. The organisations that we admire and aspire to have a sense of this, we like them and we want to be associated with them. Clearly there are organisations that are successful that don’t have this, although their success is limited to whatever resource

What is the meaning of the Group’s motto, ‘A World Class Local Business’? In belonging to a major international Group, the action of each subsidiary in each country is strengthened. With a common vision, common values and common experience, the subsidiaries are able to enhance their specific cultural and historical background. Each local player thereby becomes a player in a joint entity. The use of English for the motto, as well as the word ‘Group’, reflects the international dimension of the Group. What is the meaning behind the structure of the new identity? The names of the Group subsidiaries reflect the local reality of our business; they are visually and graphically enhanced in the structure of the new identity. While they represent this local dimension, the Group name represents the global dimension and symbolises the strength of the entity as a whole. The spiral is the common bond in the logo used throughout the Group and its component entities. It represents the dynamic strength of the Group’s growth. What does the logo mean? The logo is a spiral that illustrates the values summed up in the ‘Vision’: • the spiral symbolises the idea of movement, acceptance of change and commitment to growth; • the centre of the spiral symbolises the roots of our business, its growth and the vigour of the Group as a whole; • it is a geometric form that respects mathematical laws thus evoking the close link between our business and its technological content; • it is also a form that is found fossilised in limestone, the raw material used in the production of cement and which also evokes the movement of our main tools: kilns, crushers, cement mixers, etc.


02_25_arcVision_global

19-09-2007

14:38

they have access to that is denied others. When that changes, so does their success. Can you tell us what inspired you to develop the idea of a spiral for Italcementi Group back in 1997, how you came to craft its final form and how you conceived the identity system which has done so much to create the sense that we are one company? Cement is an amazing material a paradox in some ways. It starts fluid and becomes rigid. Cement is made from basic natural substances and yet defines the modern man-made

Pagina 25

was how to flex the design system so that the symbol could be big enough to be recognised, and yet allow lots of names, of very different lengths, to work in harmony with the spiral and with each other.

world. The spiral reflects the fluidity and mixing process. The spiral is also one of nature’s strongest construction formulas and the basis for the golden section, one of man’s favourite aesthetic formulas. The idea came from looking at a beautifully chiselled letter Q: it screamed both movement and strength. The challenge came in translating that into the abstract form of the spiral, and in resolving the open and closed ends without coming to an abrupt stop, which would have lost the momentum of the form. The final form was created in the days before computers,

so the gradient work was very time-consuming and difficult to get right. The colour was easier in the sense that white was the colour we wanted to be strong. In order to set off the white, we chose black as a neutral, and a beautiful bright orange/gold as an accent to provide freshness and energy. Our vision was for the spiral to become synonymous with quality in the industry, allowing the individual company names to take a back seat in an ever more global market place. But recognition needs to be built over time, and the challenge

Why does the spiral twist to the left? A spiral that turns to the right could be confused with the figure six. In turning to the left, it creates a visual effect that enhances and draws attention to the subsidiary’s name. It also creates a balance between the Gold line and the names of the company and the Group.

Why is the name Italcementi Group in light typeface? So that the name of the local company stands out more.

Why does the spiral end the way it does? It was the best way from a graphic and aesthetic point of view.

Why is the logotype in black and white? It is stronger, simpler and more economical. The different shades of grey evoke the colour of cement.

What purpose does the Gold line serve? The Gold line above the company name gives coherency to the whole and makes the identity system viable with either short (e.g., GSM), or long (e.g., Financiera y Minera) names. It is also the only coloured element in the logotype. Why was Frutiger chosen as the font? Because it is a modern, simple, strong and flexible font. It is also a font with a ‘technical’ look about it.

* Lee Coomber, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, is a visionary thinker capable of marrying creativity and strategic insight to create outstanding brands for clients from a wide range of sectors and geographies. His recent work includes the new corporate brand for Unilever and clients such as Cadillac, Linklaters and Tesco. Originally trained in theatre design, Lee Coomber has had a rich and varied career, working in the US and Asia. He began his career designing exhibitions at the British Design Council and then four years designing paper back jackets—everything from Jackie Collins to Vladimir Nabokov. Lee Coomber is passionate about how creativity and design can make the world a better place.

Why was the colour Gold chosen? It is the colour of heat and energy and evokes an essential component in our production process, ie, fire. It is a typical colour in Mediterranean countries and plays a substantial role in the Group’s history and culture. It is a familiar colour in industry and construction. It is a colour that sets us apart from our main international competitors: green for Lafarge, red for Holderbank, red and blue for Cemex and blue for Blue Circle, etc.

Why is the logotype on a white background? White creates a greater contrast and strengthens the visibility of the spiral and the company names. White is also one of the most practical colours in industrial applications (vehicles, etc.). Is the new identity a useful expenditure? The new identity is an investment: it aims at increasing the Group’s performance. Its application will become broader over time and will be introduced on the basis of replacement and maintenance programmes so as to limit the extent of expenditure.

25


26

Projects

IMAGE BUILDING

Architecture as a perfect synthesis of the corporate vision, symbols and communication. Growing numbers of business organisations are expressing their core values through the physical structures that represent them in the world. Corporate identity takes concrete shape and form on the basis of carefully planned polices and guidelines. Architecture joins forces with marketing to upgrade the aesthetic appearance of the buildings that house the headquarters of industrial organisations, to represent the enterprise as it is today and as it intends to be tomorrow. It acquires social significance, shapes a place where previously there was none and creates a visible, unmistakeable identity.

The Changing Languages of Communication

Mario Antonio Arnaboldi*

I

n our information society architectural values and content tend to be aligned with the language of communication. This has resulted in a series of misunderstandings. First and foremost the idea that forms, materials and so on must be directly correlated to brand aesthetics. This can be misleading: architecture is not a three-dimensional translation of institutional brand graphics, it deals with urban-scale structures, it helps shape the city and may endure for years, sometimes even centuries. Architecture conveys business content correctly when it condenses the spirit of the age, with all its infinite cultural variables. A large company expresses its corporate philosophy effectively if it “sponsors” quality architectural design, regardless of whether this is directly related to the products it markets. The buildings designed by Behnisch & Partners and Herzog & de Meuron, and the others presented in this issue of arcVision, highlight the primary need for a thorough historical knowledge of the events behind a given work; a simple linguistic interpretation is not sufficient, what is required is a methodological approach. The act of creating something new and alive, something self-sufficient, that can be renewed over time, has always been considered magical, almost a divine genesis. This great power inherent in design is perhaps what sometimes makes us see a lack of minor divinities among mere mortals. What is certain, however, is that if something does have an air of the divine, it lies in the overall product of human intelligence and never in the personal success of one man alone. So if we want to analyse what designing something new really means, we have to begin with the observation that we need to mark out a path, so that logical and pertinent deductions can be made from the transformations on which we are working. This produces the gesture, the sign that makes the dream come true. Manual dexterity and expression bind visual perception and make a work visible, feasible and liveable. Man and his gestures are the basis for progress. We need to be able to identify all the signs to interpret tradition with a new code of visual values in order to perpetuate the process of continuity. So we also need to reflect on the motivations that influenced the creative act in the past, the creative act in the broad sense of territorial, architectural and design events. If we assume that history is a story constantly being told and changing all the time, then clearly the

way it is read changes, depending on whether it is told by romantic historians or, in contrast, by scholars aiming to develop models chosen from the universe of products created by individuals. Sometimes, particularly in the first case, the idea of design is stretched for the purpose of proving a theory; a theory that is not always the result of an objective study capable of truly grasping an innovative phenomenon. A project is not supposed to be a copy of a model, a mere reiteration of the model’s contents and form; it should be constantly reinvented to assert that cuttingedge force that lies in innovation and universality. In this way, a renovated or restructured monument becomes truly timeless, drawing on all those technical and technological contents dictated by modernity. Which is why everything that has been told, strictly tied to a given moment in time, may not provide an adequate image, because external events generate new facts and design must constantly take on new values. External events, the layout or form of a building, its construction technique, are themselves the image of the functions of its specific time. The work that incorporates the expressive intelligence of man together with demography, which reflects the quality of the general mood, is the real source of revolutionary thinking in design. There is absolutely no doubt that every human act is based on the fact that we need to move beyond thinking in terms of separate, distinct and mutually exclusive entities. The method of a priori synthesis corresponds to the electrological concept of the current or the field; fundamentally homogeneous entities crossed by two opposite poles, and yet constantly reversible into each other. In other words, it is subject and object, fetish and feeling, conscience and the myth surrounding conscience. Opposites embrace each other in one single field of action: would it not make more sense to distinguish between them and consider them separately from the relation between them. This is where modern thought splits in two, in the vision of energy flowing from one pole to another, based on the underlying intuition of one single dynamic-fluid reality, between the before and the after, between continuity and contemporary tradition. Romantics will object that, in this way, one of the two poles is cancelled out and there are those who, looking to the future, consider them inseparable. Following this line of thought, of course you can say history is important, but you wonder what purpose it really serves. Any careful analysis will show that it con-

tains everything and the opposite of everything. History may be used to prove any kind of theory, and this might well be a contaminating fact. The experience transmitted by a project can be extracted by comparing the moment in time when the work was created and its contents; in other words, the relation between temporal framework and purpose, which together define a feeling through the creativity of the final event. People who reject renewal in art and simply recycle the past are incapable of building the future. This emerges from a rapid glance at the projects published here, an overview of developments in architecture in Europe and the rest of the world. It is hard to make a direct comparison; it is also hard to determine, in a brief analysis, the sources of the differences. It is a well-known fact that a country’s political situation conditions its development, and, without the slightest doubt, its architectural design. The economy, the market and hence the difference between public and private money together create the scenario in which new architectural clients move. A scenario that varies according to the strength of the entrepreneurial creativity that drives it. Looking briefly at what has happened in Italy compared with events abroad, private clients have vanished here. So if a public agency organises a competition on the market, there is a mad rush among firms, large and small, to take part. There seems to be a hunger to make architecture, but at the same time there is an obvious lack of familiarity with building the small things that pave the way towards making big things well. Many operators are still affected by certain mental blocks. The difference lies in the courage to abandon short-term interests and gain a better understanding of the kind of architecture that is not a re-working of the tired models of the past, but is actually projected into the future. Things done in the past, which today struggle to produce innovation and quality because of market pressures. Architectural design ought to represent us as we would like to be in the future, not as we are today. This is why architecture tenders often use an apparently aseptic international language that allows a non-existent technology to be represented. The countries that in the past created beauty through architecture—France, Great Britain, the United States—have chosen the second option. They have managed to pour all their energy, creativity, hopes, concerns and

27


26

Projects

IMAGE BUILDING

Architecture as a perfect synthesis of the corporate vision, symbols and communication. Growing numbers of business organisations are expressing their core values through the physical structures that represent them in the world. Corporate identity takes concrete shape and form on the basis of carefully planned polices and guidelines. Architecture joins forces with marketing to upgrade the aesthetic appearance of the buildings that house the headquarters of industrial organisations, to represent the enterprise as it is today and as it intends to be tomorrow. It acquires social significance, shapes a place where previously there was none and creates a visible, unmistakeable identity.

The Changing Languages of Communication

Mario Antonio Arnaboldi*

I

n our information society architectural values and content tend to be aligned with the language of communication. This has resulted in a series of misunderstandings. First and foremost the idea that forms, materials and so on must be directly correlated to brand aesthetics. This can be misleading: architecture is not a three-dimensional translation of institutional brand graphics, it deals with urban-scale structures, it helps shape the city and may endure for years, sometimes even centuries. Architecture conveys business content correctly when it condenses the spirit of the age, with all its infinite cultural variables. A large company expresses its corporate philosophy effectively if it “sponsors” quality architectural design, regardless of whether this is directly related to the products it markets. The buildings designed by Behnisch & Partners and Herzog & de Meuron, and the others presented in this issue of arcVision, highlight the primary need for a thorough historical knowledge of the events behind a given work; a simple linguistic interpretation is not sufficient, what is required is a methodological approach. The act of creating something new and alive, something self-sufficient, that can be renewed over time, has always been considered magical, almost a divine genesis. This great power inherent in design is perhaps what sometimes makes us see a lack of minor divinities among mere mortals. What is certain, however, is that if something does have an air of the divine, it lies in the overall product of human intelligence and never in the personal success of one man alone. So if we want to analyse what designing something new really means, we have to begin with the observation that we need to mark out a path, so that logical and pertinent deductions can be made from the transformations on which we are working. This produces the gesture, the sign that makes the dream come true. Manual dexterity and expression bind visual perception and make a work visible, feasible and liveable. Man and his gestures are the basis for progress. We need to be able to identify all the signs to interpret tradition with a new code of visual values in order to perpetuate the process of continuity. So we also need to reflect on the motivations that influenced the creative act in the past, the creative act in the broad sense of territorial, architectural and design events. If we assume that history is a story constantly being told and changing all the time, then clearly the

way it is read changes, depending on whether it is told by romantic historians or, in contrast, by scholars aiming to develop models chosen from the universe of products created by individuals. Sometimes, particularly in the first case, the idea of design is stretched for the purpose of proving a theory; a theory that is not always the result of an objective study capable of truly grasping an innovative phenomenon. A project is not supposed to be a copy of a model, a mere reiteration of the model’s contents and form; it should be constantly reinvented to assert that cuttingedge force that lies in innovation and universality. In this way, a renovated or restructured monument becomes truly timeless, drawing on all those technical and technological contents dictated by modernity. Which is why everything that has been told, strictly tied to a given moment in time, may not provide an adequate image, because external events generate new facts and design must constantly take on new values. External events, the layout or form of a building, its construction technique, are themselves the image of the functions of its specific time. The work that incorporates the expressive intelligence of man together with demography, which reflects the quality of the general mood, is the real source of revolutionary thinking in design. There is absolutely no doubt that every human act is based on the fact that we need to move beyond thinking in terms of separate, distinct and mutually exclusive entities. The method of a priori synthesis corresponds to the electrological concept of the current or the field; fundamentally homogeneous entities crossed by two opposite poles, and yet constantly reversible into each other. In other words, it is subject and object, fetish and feeling, conscience and the myth surrounding conscience. Opposites embrace each other in one single field of action: would it not make more sense to distinguish between them and consider them separately from the relation between them. This is where modern thought splits in two, in the vision of energy flowing from one pole to another, based on the underlying intuition of one single dynamic-fluid reality, between the before and the after, between continuity and contemporary tradition. Romantics will object that, in this way, one of the two poles is cancelled out and there are those who, looking to the future, consider them inseparable. Following this line of thought, of course you can say history is important, but you wonder what purpose it really serves. Any careful analysis will show that it con-

tains everything and the opposite of everything. History may be used to prove any kind of theory, and this might well be a contaminating fact. The experience transmitted by a project can be extracted by comparing the moment in time when the work was created and its contents; in other words, the relation between temporal framework and purpose, which together define a feeling through the creativity of the final event. People who reject renewal in art and simply recycle the past are incapable of building the future. This emerges from a rapid glance at the projects published here, an overview of developments in architecture in Europe and the rest of the world. It is hard to make a direct comparison; it is also hard to determine, in a brief analysis, the sources of the differences. It is a well-known fact that a country’s political situation conditions its development, and, without the slightest doubt, its architectural design. The economy, the market and hence the difference between public and private money together create the scenario in which new architectural clients move. A scenario that varies according to the strength of the entrepreneurial creativity that drives it. Looking briefly at what has happened in Italy compared with events abroad, private clients have vanished here. So if a public agency organises a competition on the market, there is a mad rush among firms, large and small, to take part. There seems to be a hunger to make architecture, but at the same time there is an obvious lack of familiarity with building the small things that pave the way towards making big things well. Many operators are still affected by certain mental blocks. The difference lies in the courage to abandon short-term interests and gain a better understanding of the kind of architecture that is not a re-working of the tired models of the past, but is actually projected into the future. Things done in the past, which today struggle to produce innovation and quality because of market pressures. Architectural design ought to represent us as we would like to be in the future, not as we are today. This is why architecture tenders often use an apparently aseptic international language that allows a non-existent technology to be represented. The countries that in the past created beauty through architecture—France, Great Britain, the United States—have chosen the second option. They have managed to pour all their energy, creativity, hopes, concerns and

27


28

Previous page, from top, Álvaro Siza Vieira, parish complex in Portugal; Richard Rogers, Tomigaya Tower, Tokyo. This page, from top, Paul Andreu, the Terminal Transmanche; sketch by

Álvaro Siza Vieira; Oscar Niemeyer, Plaza of the Three Powers, Brasilia. Facing page, Paolo Soleri, Ellis Island; Manfredi Nicoletti, General Hospital, Agrigento.

aspirations into their architecture. This is what making architecture means, it means uniting everybody's feelings, and not simply expressing the limits of one's own permissiveness. The differences between European and non-European architecture also lie in the clear separation between scientists and humanists in the way they envisage the future. Those who have dedicated their lives to the sciences of Nature, which represents a guideline for architectural design today more than ever before, certainly have a more optimistic vision than the majority of scholars of the socalled human sciences, a much more constructive attitude. Scientists hardly ever blow their own trumpets, but they all show great faith and a certain amount of hope in the future. The social scientist is, quite rightly, most critical of the ill-informed, hypocritical and the non genuine. A politician who knows nothing about the science of architecture cannot be a genuine politician. This emerges from a comparison of the architecture in different countries. There is no simple (or less simple) explanation for the phenomenon that make the difference, but they can be read according to a couple of interpretative approaches, based, respectively, on the idea of a frontier and the pervasiveness of suspicion. An architect has a barrier or frontier in front of him, a job to carry out or have carried out, an actual or potential expansion of his real and mental space. This fosters differences and helps channel the psychic energy that enables architecture to function, like an economic investment. Even architecture scholars who following an exploratory path in search of new architectural signs share, at least in part, this state of positive expectation and constructive differences. The indices reflecting the differences among works of architecture in different countries can thus be seen as critical comparisons forming part of the active construction of the development of architectural design. Caution is necessary, however: doubt may give life flavour, but suspicion poisons it. There is no room for distrust. So doubt over the differences between different kinds of architecture is welcome, but suspicion is not: if you are busy seeking out falsehoods and deceit in every work of architecture, you are defenceless against individual treachery. It was vital to begin by clarifying as best as possible the architectural culture in different countries, in order to clarify more rigorously how architectural thinking is influenced by politics and ethics. This is an attempt to clarify matters as consistently as possible for those responsible for analyzing discourse on social architecture. This

line of thinking highlights issues like the New Economy, the emerging New Society, bioethics, political theory and even mathematics, subjects which, from this viewpoint, provide fine examples of the kind of theoretical interest capable of influencing the differences between modern architectural idioms in European countries and on the other side of the Atlantic. Herein lie the roots of modern-day social architecture. The differences lie in the extent to which these concepts are taken up and transformed into values destined to create differences. While remaining faithful to architectural methods and objects, attempts are now underway to modify architecture’s capacities and to view sociality in a different light. Not so long ago everything that was social belonged to the impoverished working class; today, the word social simply refers to communities living respectfully together and respecting Nature. This pinpoints what we expect from the future of architecture: macroengineering to change the face of the planet. Or, to put it more clearly, planning on a major scale. Floating cities powered by the sea, pyramids standing 2 km tall, and iceberg dams in the Antarctic. All very different projects, but with one thing in common: their size. Cities composed of towers serving public functions and communication systems working on various levels, horizontal lifts passing through the clouds, in part below ground, in part above ground, on land or out at sea. Big is not just beautiful, it is also necessary to guarantee a new way of life and new kind of behaviour. These are the differences of the future: buildings larger than the pyramids, more expensive than the Apollo project, more ambitious than the Petronas Towers. This will be the standard of tomorrow’s projects which, if they are actually built, might well be remembered as the new wonders of the world in the third millennium. So it is to be hoped that the architects who have worked at the highest levels all around the world distinguish between private architecture and architecture for the community. We need new exercises to ensure that the projects of the future stem from an intuitive sense of how the new society will develop, rather than simply reiterating personal styles. This vital search for truth, not to be confused with one's personal beliefs, should follow in the footsteps of, say, Palladio, to decipher the architect's trade. The truth, found in the contents of architectural design and in the craft of construction, must lie in the differences, since it is not just an opinion. According to contemporary culture, it is impossible for the experience of architecture and for our

world to be enlightened and guided by indisputable, definitive knowledge, in other words, by the truth. But nowadays this theory tends to be expressed rather blandly. It has turned into a formula, a cliché applauded the more it is heard, particularly if it is uttered by so-called famous voices. It lives off its reputation, after thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Giovanni Gentile and, first and foremost, Giacomo Leopardi bore the immense burden of fighting the western tradition whereby truth is seen as incontrovertible, definitive knowledge of the world. So it is complexity which provides a clear reading of the differences between the compound architecture of Europe and the architecture found on the other side of the Atlantic. How many other reasons are there for these differences? What are the reasons for an architecture that expresses itself in consonants or vowels but still cannot find a language capable of uttering the full sentence of style. A complete and new style reflecting the age we live in. Capable of expressing our sentiments, possibly shared by people all over the world, an expression of how we have embraced new technology and, above all, new mathematics, which only our personal computers are capable of deciphering to teach us a new language. Today, we no longer use money, just a small piece of plastic, but in the meantime we have forgotten how to carry out simple operations like extrapolating a square root. What is certain is that architecture today presents enormous difference, differences that are difficult to decipher considering that people, in any case, are always the same.

*Architect Mario Antonio Arnaboldi is Professor of Architectural Design at the Faculty of Architecture of Milan Polytechnic. He has also taught at the universities of Trento, Sydney, New York, Denver, Cracow and Warsaw, and holds a Silver Medal from Milan Polytechnic for 40 years’ teaching service. He is the author of numerous books and reference articles on architectural issues and deputy editor of the Italian magazine l’Arca. His books include: La città visibile, l’Arca Edizioni, 1988; Progettare oggi, l’Arca Edizioni, 1992; Il senso universale dell’architettura, Liguori Editore, 1993; Il giudizio universale, l’Arca Edizioni, 1995; La disciplina del progetto, Clup, 1989; Genesi della forma, Marsilio, 1966; Genesi e propedeusi al progetto, Silvia Editrice, 1987; Atlante degli impianti sportivi, Hoepli, 1982; Architettura: dialoghi e lettere, Mimesis, 2004. His main contributions to architecture have been in industrial architecture, including the Euratom centre in Ispra, the Saiwa-Nabisco, Ramazzotti-Pernod, Soilax, Montana, Calamari factories in the Milan hinterland, the Anbel-Tambrock office block in San Donato Milanese, the ABC building in Sydney, the Roloil building in Cologno Monzese, Cargo City 1-2 and 3-4 at Malpensa 2000 International Airport, the town hall in Casalpusterlengo, and the structural project for the new NATO HQ, Afsouth 2000, in Lago Patria, Naples.

29


28

Previous page, from top, Álvaro Siza Vieira, parish complex in Portugal; Richard Rogers, Tomigaya Tower, Tokyo. This page, from top, Paul Andreu, the Terminal Transmanche; sketch by

Álvaro Siza Vieira; Oscar Niemeyer, Plaza of the Three Powers, Brasilia. Facing page, Paolo Soleri, Ellis Island; Manfredi Nicoletti, General Hospital, Agrigento.

aspirations into their architecture. This is what making architecture means, it means uniting everybody's feelings, and not simply expressing the limits of one's own permissiveness. The differences between European and non-European architecture also lie in the clear separation between scientists and humanists in the way they envisage the future. Those who have dedicated their lives to the sciences of Nature, which represents a guideline for architectural design today more than ever before, certainly have a more optimistic vision than the majority of scholars of the socalled human sciences, a much more constructive attitude. Scientists hardly ever blow their own trumpets, but they all show great faith and a certain amount of hope in the future. The social scientist is, quite rightly, most critical of the ill-informed, hypocritical and the non genuine. A politician who knows nothing about the science of architecture cannot be a genuine politician. This emerges from a comparison of the architecture in different countries. There is no simple (or less simple) explanation for the phenomenon that make the difference, but they can be read according to a couple of interpretative approaches, based, respectively, on the idea of a frontier and the pervasiveness of suspicion. An architect has a barrier or frontier in front of him, a job to carry out or have carried out, an actual or potential expansion of his real and mental space. This fosters differences and helps channel the psychic energy that enables architecture to function, like an economic investment. Even architecture scholars who following an exploratory path in search of new architectural signs share, at least in part, this state of positive expectation and constructive differences. The indices reflecting the differences among works of architecture in different countries can thus be seen as critical comparisons forming part of the active construction of the development of architectural design. Caution is necessary, however: doubt may give life flavour, but suspicion poisons it. There is no room for distrust. So doubt over the differences between different kinds of architecture is welcome, but suspicion is not: if you are busy seeking out falsehoods and deceit in every work of architecture, you are defenceless against individual treachery. It was vital to begin by clarifying as best as possible the architectural culture in different countries, in order to clarify more rigorously how architectural thinking is influenced by politics and ethics. This is an attempt to clarify matters as consistently as possible for those responsible for analyzing discourse on social architecture. This

line of thinking highlights issues like the New Economy, the emerging New Society, bioethics, political theory and even mathematics, subjects which, from this viewpoint, provide fine examples of the kind of theoretical interest capable of influencing the differences between modern architectural idioms in European countries and on the other side of the Atlantic. Herein lie the roots of modern-day social architecture. The differences lie in the extent to which these concepts are taken up and transformed into values destined to create differences. While remaining faithful to architectural methods and objects, attempts are now underway to modify architecture’s capacities and to view sociality in a different light. Not so long ago everything that was social belonged to the impoverished working class; today, the word social simply refers to communities living respectfully together and respecting Nature. This pinpoints what we expect from the future of architecture: macroengineering to change the face of the planet. Or, to put it more clearly, planning on a major scale. Floating cities powered by the sea, pyramids standing 2 km tall, and iceberg dams in the Antarctic. All very different projects, but with one thing in common: their size. Cities composed of towers serving public functions and communication systems working on various levels, horizontal lifts passing through the clouds, in part below ground, in part above ground, on land or out at sea. Big is not just beautiful, it is also necessary to guarantee a new way of life and new kind of behaviour. These are the differences of the future: buildings larger than the pyramids, more expensive than the Apollo project, more ambitious than the Petronas Towers. This will be the standard of tomorrow’s projects which, if they are actually built, might well be remembered as the new wonders of the world in the third millennium. So it is to be hoped that the architects who have worked at the highest levels all around the world distinguish between private architecture and architecture for the community. We need new exercises to ensure that the projects of the future stem from an intuitive sense of how the new society will develop, rather than simply reiterating personal styles. This vital search for truth, not to be confused with one's personal beliefs, should follow in the footsteps of, say, Palladio, to decipher the architect's trade. The truth, found in the contents of architectural design and in the craft of construction, must lie in the differences, since it is not just an opinion. According to contemporary culture, it is impossible for the experience of architecture and for our

world to be enlightened and guided by indisputable, definitive knowledge, in other words, by the truth. But nowadays this theory tends to be expressed rather blandly. It has turned into a formula, a cliché applauded the more it is heard, particularly if it is uttered by so-called famous voices. It lives off its reputation, after thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Giovanni Gentile and, first and foremost, Giacomo Leopardi bore the immense burden of fighting the western tradition whereby truth is seen as incontrovertible, definitive knowledge of the world. So it is complexity which provides a clear reading of the differences between the compound architecture of Europe and the architecture found on the other side of the Atlantic. How many other reasons are there for these differences? What are the reasons for an architecture that expresses itself in consonants or vowels but still cannot find a language capable of uttering the full sentence of style. A complete and new style reflecting the age we live in. Capable of expressing our sentiments, possibly shared by people all over the world, an expression of how we have embraced new technology and, above all, new mathematics, which only our personal computers are capable of deciphering to teach us a new language. Today, we no longer use money, just a small piece of plastic, but in the meantime we have forgotten how to carry out simple operations like extrapolating a square root. What is certain is that architecture today presents enormous difference, differences that are difficult to decipher considering that people, in any case, are always the same.

*Architect Mario Antonio Arnaboldi is Professor of Architectural Design at the Faculty of Architecture of Milan Polytechnic. He has also taught at the universities of Trento, Sydney, New York, Denver, Cracow and Warsaw, and holds a Silver Medal from Milan Polytechnic for 40 years’ teaching service. He is the author of numerous books and reference articles on architectural issues and deputy editor of the Italian magazine l’Arca. His books include: La città visibile, l’Arca Edizioni, 1988; Progettare oggi, l’Arca Edizioni, 1992; Il senso universale dell’architettura, Liguori Editore, 1993; Il giudizio universale, l’Arca Edizioni, 1995; La disciplina del progetto, Clup, 1989; Genesi della forma, Marsilio, 1966; Genesi e propedeusi al progetto, Silvia Editrice, 1987; Atlante degli impianti sportivi, Hoepli, 1982; Architettura: dialoghi e lettere, Mimesis, 2004. His main contributions to architecture have been in industrial architecture, including the Euratom centre in Ispra, the Saiwa-Nabisco, Ramazzotti-Pernod, Soilax, Montana, Calamari factories in the Milan hinterland, the Anbel-Tambrock office block in San Donato Milanese, the ABC building in Sydney, the Roloil building in Cologno Monzese, Cargo City 1-2 and 3-4 at Malpensa 2000 International Airport, the town hall in Casalpusterlengo, and the structural project for the new NATO HQ, Afsouth 2000, in Lago Patria, Naples.

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The Tempo of a New Vision Geneva, Vacheron Constantin HQ Project by Bernard Tschumi Architects

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Project sketch and perspective section. Facing page, partial view of the complex.

ack when architecture was independent of marketing, Corporate Identity was the language used for communication purposes, the system employed by business organisations to interact with the public through institutional channels. The electronics revolution and, later, the computer revolution have produced innovations that have deeply affected the aesthetics of the buildings that house corporate headquarters. The objective successfully achieved by the project for the new head office designed by Bernard Tschumi for wellknown watch-maker Vacheron Constantin was a building that would be an effective hybrid, a synthesis of the quality of supreme craftsmanship and the mass production know-how required to cover a vast international market. A combination of the natural and the artificial expressed through a seamless surface has resulted in an extremely significant architectural object, both on a symbolic level and as a conveyor of identity. In other words, when marketing techniques are properly used and carefully orchestrated—following a brilliantly composed score—architecture moves in new linguistic directions. In the case in question, the roof, designed as a single element composed of a wooden intrados and an aluminium external cover, emphasises two materials that together form more than the sum of their parts: a structure providing comfortable interior spaces, thanks to the use of wood, and the practical reliability of aluminium, a material that not only withstands harsh atmospheric conditions but also evokes a higher level of technological sophistication than other materials. Vacheron Constantin decided to construct the new building to bring a number of production units, previously located throughout the Geneva area, on a single site. In 2001 it invited international tenders for a new complex. The winner was the project submitted by Bernard Tschumi and the new plant, built shortly thereafter, today houses both administrative functions and watchmanufacturing facilities. Great care over the choice of

sophisticated materials and special finishes has created high-quality interiors. The broad glass surfaces are indeed a sort of boundary, but they are also extremely permeable to the outside; the flexibility of the layout in accommodating the distribution of functions means major changes can be introduced at any time. Once again, thanks to a design approach unhindered by contextual factors, Tschumi has created an architectural object of great formal significance that successfully opens up innovative new dimensions, where architecture refuses to be simply a container of functions and aims instead to be a synthesis of the art of construction and the art of communicating the cultural needs of our age on an urban scale.

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The Tempo of a New Vision Geneva, Vacheron Constantin HQ Project by Bernard Tschumi Architects

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Project sketch and perspective section. Facing page, partial view of the complex.

ack when architecture was independent of marketing, Corporate Identity was the language used for communication purposes, the system employed by business organisations to interact with the public through institutional channels. The electronics revolution and, later, the computer revolution have produced innovations that have deeply affected the aesthetics of the buildings that house corporate headquarters. The objective successfully achieved by the project for the new head office designed by Bernard Tschumi for wellknown watch-maker Vacheron Constantin was a building that would be an effective hybrid, a synthesis of the quality of supreme craftsmanship and the mass production know-how required to cover a vast international market. A combination of the natural and the artificial expressed through a seamless surface has resulted in an extremely significant architectural object, both on a symbolic level and as a conveyor of identity. In other words, when marketing techniques are properly used and carefully orchestrated—following a brilliantly composed score—architecture moves in new linguistic directions. In the case in question, the roof, designed as a single element composed of a wooden intrados and an aluminium external cover, emphasises two materials that together form more than the sum of their parts: a structure providing comfortable interior spaces, thanks to the use of wood, and the practical reliability of aluminium, a material that not only withstands harsh atmospheric conditions but also evokes a higher level of technological sophistication than other materials. Vacheron Constantin decided to construct the new building to bring a number of production units, previously located throughout the Geneva area, on a single site. In 2001 it invited international tenders for a new complex. The winner was the project submitted by Bernard Tschumi and the new plant, built shortly thereafter, today houses both administrative functions and watchmanufacturing facilities. Great care over the choice of

sophisticated materials and special finishes has created high-quality interiors. The broad glass surfaces are indeed a sort of boundary, but they are also extremely permeable to the outside; the flexibility of the layout in accommodating the distribution of functions means major changes can be introduced at any time. Once again, thanks to a design approach unhindered by contextual factors, Tschumi has created an architectural object of great formal significance that successfully opens up innovative new dimensions, where architecture refuses to be simply a container of functions and aims instead to be a synthesis of the art of construction and the art of communicating the cultural needs of our age on an urban scale.

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Construction scheme of the seamless “band� linking the roof and the vertical elements. The band is composed of two layers in different materials: the outside layer is metal, the inside layer is timber. Below, general view and, facing page, the internal glass staircase: transparency eliminates the barriers between inside and outside. Following pages, indoor view of corridor and vestibule.

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Construction scheme of the seamless “band� linking the roof and the vertical elements. The band is composed of two layers in different materials: the outside layer is metal, the inside layer is timber. Below, general view and, facing page, the internal glass staircase: transparency eliminates the barriers between inside and outside. Following pages, indoor view of corridor and vestibule.

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A Dinosaurian Design Vienna, St. Marx T-Centre Project by Architektur Consult ZT

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fficially opened in the autumn of 2004, the T-Centre is one of the most complex projects ever undertaken in Austria. The client, Global Player T-Mobile, made it clear immediately that it was not interested in the usual skyscraper but, in contrast, was looking for a building with a horizontal layout. A laudable decision, given that Vienna, unlike most other capital cities, has not yet been taken over by a forest of towers. Secondly, since there is already one giant skyscraper, the Millennium Tower, it would have been hazardous, to say the least, to set up the kind of confrontation engaged in by the medieval rich and powerful, who vied with each other to build towers that generally served no purpose other than to show that their height was directly proportional to the family’s prestige and wealth. So, having deliberately opted out of the race to reach the skies (thereby avoiding tricky problems concerning statics), the T-Centre has in a sense got the better of the Millennium Tower by doubling its cubic volume. Extended forms and an extremely dynamic layout have earned the T-Centre the nickname of “flying dinosaur”, with its distinctive profile and an upward projecting

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The complex is located in Vienna’s Rennweg district.

body suggesting the wing of some great Jurassic mammal ready to fly off across the city. The wing-shaped form is most probably a coincidence, sheer chance, a functional choice rather than a deliberate attempt to create a zoomorphic piece of architecture. Whatever its genesis, the result has met with the approval of the Viennese: it is not everyday that you have a gentle giant around to help you communicate with the rest of the world. Built on the site of the old city slaughterhouse, the T-Centre is the first important construction in an area preparing for one of the most important urban development schemes in the whole of Austria. Clearly, the development will inevitably be affected by an architectural event like the T-Centre, which, hopefully, will not be a one-off construction overwhelming anything lacking its size or formal impact. Designed to house thousands of people (two thousand four hundred office workers populate its offices alone), the new building is a citadel whose conceptual design draws on the idea of a medieval walled city, in a rethinking of the typology of major complexes, which, over recent years, have been developed as vertical architectural organisms.

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A Dinosaurian Design Vienna, St. Marx T-Centre Project by Architektur Consult ZT

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fficially opened in the autumn of 2004, the T-Centre is one of the most complex projects ever undertaken in Austria. The client, Global Player T-Mobile, made it clear immediately that it was not interested in the usual skyscraper but, in contrast, was looking for a building with a horizontal layout. A laudable decision, given that Vienna, unlike most other capital cities, has not yet been taken over by a forest of towers. Secondly, since there is already one giant skyscraper, the Millennium Tower, it would have been hazardous, to say the least, to set up the kind of confrontation engaged in by the medieval rich and powerful, who vied with each other to build towers that generally served no purpose other than to show that their height was directly proportional to the family’s prestige and wealth. So, having deliberately opted out of the race to reach the skies (thereby avoiding tricky problems concerning statics), the T-Centre has in a sense got the better of the Millennium Tower by doubling its cubic volume. Extended forms and an extremely dynamic layout have earned the T-Centre the nickname of “flying dinosaur”, with its distinctive profile and an upward projecting

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The complex is located in Vienna’s Rennweg district.

body suggesting the wing of some great Jurassic mammal ready to fly off across the city. The wing-shaped form is most probably a coincidence, sheer chance, a functional choice rather than a deliberate attempt to create a zoomorphic piece of architecture. Whatever its genesis, the result has met with the approval of the Viennese: it is not everyday that you have a gentle giant around to help you communicate with the rest of the world. Built on the site of the old city slaughterhouse, the T-Centre is the first important construction in an area preparing for one of the most important urban development schemes in the whole of Austria. Clearly, the development will inevitably be affected by an architectural event like the T-Centre, which, hopefully, will not be a one-off construction overwhelming anything lacking its size or formal impact. Designed to house thousands of people (two thousand four hundred office workers populate its offices alone), the new building is a citadel whose conceptual design draws on the idea of a medieval walled city, in a rethinking of the typology of major complexes, which, over recent years, have been developed as vertical architectural organisms.

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This page, view of the building from the Rennweg and, below, detail of the elaborate inner courtyard. Facing page, detail of the end section of the sculptural wing housing the offices.

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This page, view of the building from the Rennweg and, below, detail of the elaborate inner courtyard. Facing page, detail of the end section of the sculptural wing housing the offices.

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Striking forms and axial displacements are the stylistic features that inject dynamism into the complex. Following pages, views of the interiors capable of accommodating 2,400 people.

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Striking forms and axial displacements are the stylistic features that inject dynamism into the complex. Following pages, views of the interiors capable of accommodating 2,400 people.

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A Shamanistic Identity Woking (Surrey), McLaren Technology Centre Project by Foster + Partners

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oday, the technological sophistication of Formula 1 racing cars is on a par with far more complex machines, such as planes. The architecture designed for the world of motor racing should reflect this progress. The McLaren Technology Centre project is a compelling expression of the ties between sophisticated motor racing technology and architecture. But let there be no confusion. It is not a matter of transposing the forms and materials of competitive racing cars to architecture: such an exercise would be overly simplistic and would fail to grasp the profound links between these two worlds despite their irreconcilable differences, and not just in terms of scale. Chosen for his ability to meet major challenges in which technology is always a key factor, Foster has focused on creating a tangible sign, on architecture’s ability to create a place where previously there was nothing but an indistinct area lacking any identity. Foster has shown he can handle the bends and hairpins of a winding Formula 1 track with great expertise. The track is the element that suggests the basic architectural form: something to do with direct contact with the Earth. But architecture must also come to terms with the complexi-

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Plan of the ground floor and, facing page, bird’s-eye view.

ty of the environment in order to renew the eternal dualism of Nature and Artifice. The pool of water around the building is intended as a natural presence but also has the prerogative of producing that peculiar kind of light that only water can create. Like all competitive sports, motor racing has its rituals, a mythology revealed in the centre’s planimetry, which forms almost a shamanic symbol, a mysterious winding furrow that might have been traced by some Celtic divinity controlling the fate of speed and absolute dynamics. The site of the new project measures approximately 50 hectares and is organised as a natural landscape, even though in actual fact it has been created out of nothing; a paradox that reflects the intelligence of quality architecture: showing that the art of building encompasses the art of envisaging possible worlds where Nature is not mortified by complacency but is shaped to meet needs and, above all, dreams. An approach that cannot fail to create the ideal environment for the experts who, well away from the deafening 300 km/hour cut and thrust of motor racing, design machines offering a level of power and sophistication fit for the gods.

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A Shamanistic Identity Woking (Surrey), McLaren Technology Centre Project by Foster + Partners

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oday, the technological sophistication of Formula 1 racing cars is on a par with far more complex machines, such as planes. The architecture designed for the world of motor racing should reflect this progress. The McLaren Technology Centre project is a compelling expression of the ties between sophisticated motor racing technology and architecture. But let there be no confusion. It is not a matter of transposing the forms and materials of competitive racing cars to architecture: such an exercise would be overly simplistic and would fail to grasp the profound links between these two worlds despite their irreconcilable differences, and not just in terms of scale. Chosen for his ability to meet major challenges in which technology is always a key factor, Foster has focused on creating a tangible sign, on architecture’s ability to create a place where previously there was nothing but an indistinct area lacking any identity. Foster has shown he can handle the bends and hairpins of a winding Formula 1 track with great expertise. The track is the element that suggests the basic architectural form: something to do with direct contact with the Earth. But architecture must also come to terms with the complexi-

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Plan of the ground floor and, facing page, bird’s-eye view.

ty of the environment in order to renew the eternal dualism of Nature and Artifice. The pool of water around the building is intended as a natural presence but also has the prerogative of producing that peculiar kind of light that only water can create. Like all competitive sports, motor racing has its rituals, a mythology revealed in the centre’s planimetry, which forms almost a shamanic symbol, a mysterious winding furrow that might have been traced by some Celtic divinity controlling the fate of speed and absolute dynamics. The site of the new project measures approximately 50 hectares and is organised as a natural landscape, even though in actual fact it has been created out of nothing; a paradox that reflects the intelligence of quality architecture: showing that the art of building encompasses the art of envisaging possible worlds where Nature is not mortified by complacency but is shaped to meet needs and, above all, dreams. An approach that cannot fail to create the ideal environment for the experts who, well away from the deafening 300 km/hour cut and thrust of motor racing, design machines offering a level of power and sophistication fit for the gods.

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As well as adding a natural touch, the 30,000 cubic-metre artificial lake is an integral part of the building’s cooling system.


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As well as adding a natural touch, the 30,000 cubic-metre artificial lake is an integral part of the building’s cooling system.


The glass wall has a minimal structure, incorporating aerospace and F1 technology.

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The building’s curved surfaces bring it into direct contact with its natural surroundings.


The glass wall has a minimal structure, incorporating aerospace and F1 technology.

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The building’s curved surfaces bring it into direct contact with its natural surroundings.


Views of the interiors carefully designed around an optimum combination of natural and artificial light.

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Details of the office spaces.

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Views of the interiors carefully designed around an optimum combination of natural and artificial light.

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Details of the office spaces.

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Urban-Scale Glamour Tokyo, Prada Epicentre Project by Herzog & de Meuron

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The interiors feature high-tech materials and finishes. Following pages, night-time and daytime views of the building: a crystal whose sculptural lines enhance its striking visual impact.

ashion and architecture: two communication systems that both use the language of seduction to create the conditions for contemporary man to represent himself, but differ in their dimensional relationship with the body. Never before have architecture and fashion provided such fertile ground for innovative new ideas. The big names in the prêt-à-porter industry know that sartorial quality alone is not enough: they also need to create beautiful places where they can sell their fashions. Architecture today can provide spaces of the highest quality, because it is experiencing a period of absolute stylistic freedom, even invading the realms of art through great displays of creative power unleashed by the impact of the electronic and computer revolution on architectural design over recent years. Transparency and glamour are the ingredients of the new Prada Epicentre in Tokyo, a chaotic city with no centre, where the absence of sequential street numbers makes it hard to find your way around. Indeed, it is very easy to get lost in this Japanese metropolis. So buildings with their own powerful identity are a welcome sight, acting as landmarks to help you find your bearings. The Prada Epicentre, a cross between a classic whiskey tumbler and a watchtower, is a striking presence, but also an object that is not easily labelled, a construction that plays on its spectacularly outsized scale (a sort of container composed of concave and convex rhomboidshaped lenses) to create a microcosm where fragments of dreams come true. It is an excellent urban marketing operation: architecture transformed into a giant threedimensional showcase, with four free sides to catch the eye of people passing by. Located in the Aoyama district, the Prada Epicentre is an authentic media building, a magnet that can afford to do without giant graphics or screens on its façades: the outward projection of people shopping (particularly at night-time) makes the centre an effective urbanscale medium. The interiors adopt two different solutions based on the contrast between natural and artificial: the areas where the clothes are displayed have wooden floors and double ceilings made of micro-perforated panelling, while the passageways between the various levels are stark white, with an effect that cancels out any three-dimensionality and creates a sort of gravity-free environment, an impression accentuated by numerous “bio-technological” monitors floating in a science fiction-style setting. Perhaps the architects wanted to pay tribute to Kubrick's film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, an archetypal example of the cinema anticipating the future, and a frequent reference in particularly innovative architectural projects.

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Urban-Scale Glamour Tokyo, Prada Epicentre Project by Herzog & de Meuron

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The interiors feature high-tech materials and finishes. Following pages, night-time and daytime views of the building: a crystal whose sculptural lines enhance its striking visual impact.

ashion and architecture: two communication systems that both use the language of seduction to create the conditions for contemporary man to represent himself, but differ in their dimensional relationship with the body. Never before have architecture and fashion provided such fertile ground for innovative new ideas. The big names in the prêt-à-porter industry know that sartorial quality alone is not enough: they also need to create beautiful places where they can sell their fashions. Architecture today can provide spaces of the highest quality, because it is experiencing a period of absolute stylistic freedom, even invading the realms of art through great displays of creative power unleashed by the impact of the electronic and computer revolution on architectural design over recent years. Transparency and glamour are the ingredients of the new Prada Epicentre in Tokyo, a chaotic city with no centre, where the absence of sequential street numbers makes it hard to find your way around. Indeed, it is very easy to get lost in this Japanese metropolis. So buildings with their own powerful identity are a welcome sight, acting as landmarks to help you find your bearings. The Prada Epicentre, a cross between a classic whiskey tumbler and a watchtower, is a striking presence, but also an object that is not easily labelled, a construction that plays on its spectacularly outsized scale (a sort of container composed of concave and convex rhomboidshaped lenses) to create a microcosm where fragments of dreams come true. It is an excellent urban marketing operation: architecture transformed into a giant threedimensional showcase, with four free sides to catch the eye of people passing by. Located in the Aoyama district, the Prada Epicentre is an authentic media building, a magnet that can afford to do without giant graphics or screens on its façades: the outward projection of people shopping (particularly at night-time) makes the centre an effective urbanscale medium. The interiors adopt two different solutions based on the contrast between natural and artificial: the areas where the clothes are displayed have wooden floors and double ceilings made of micro-perforated panelling, while the passageways between the various levels are stark white, with an effect that cancels out any three-dimensionality and creates a sort of gravity-free environment, an impression accentuated by numerous “bio-technological” monitors floating in a science fiction-style setting. Perhaps the architects wanted to pay tribute to Kubrick's film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, an archetypal example of the cinema anticipating the future, and a frequent reference in particularly innovative architectural projects.

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The uniform colour scheme creates a sense of unity in the spacious interiors. Snorkel-like monitors project real-time video clips of the Prada Epicentre in New York.

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The uniform colour scheme creates a sense of unity in the spacious interiors. Snorkel-like monitors project real-time video clips of the Prada Epicentre in New York.

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Visual Rationalism Ruoholahti, Nokia Research Centre Project by Tuomo Siitonen Architects

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Detail of the frontage showing the steel panelling.

n the firm belief that Nature and technology never conflict or compete with each other, Siitonen has designed an authentic “machine” vibrating with light and colour variations, a sort of gigantic microchip or microprocessor evoking the world of electronics, where Nokia is one of the leading manufacturers of mobile phones, satellite decoders and wireless systems. Finland, or Alvar Aalto and Nokia, two important national monuments: the history of architecture and the future through global connection on a planetary scale. And a building, the Nokia Research Centre, inspired by the vibration of light. Thanks to the double layer of glass and steel acting as an optical filter around the bearing structure of the building constructed in Ruoholahti near Helsinki, the architectural mass levitates, dematerialising through an interplay of light and shadow, opacity and transparency. When architecture gently alludes and slowly reveals itself, a state of grace has perhaps been achieved by Siitonen, an “anthropological” architect who continues an approach that, from Aalto onwards, has always put people at the heart of every project as the real generators of spaces. Space shared with Nature, which in Finland, and every other country in Northern Europe, is the conditio sine qua non for a lifestyle in harmony with architecture. Nature emerges not just in the interpenetration between builtscape and natural surroundings, but also in the structure of buildings composed of a skeleton wrapped in a skin which, during the severe Finnish winters, provides shelter from the cold yet, thanks to extensive use of glass, is also intensely open to outside events: the changing seasons, mutating landscape, variations in light. Everything has a role to play in a land where the conifer woods begin just a few yards away from your front door. Nature’s presence is manifested not just in the natural landscape or territorial surroundings, but also in certain biological processes, the ability of an organism to adapt to its environment. The site plan of the Nokia Research Centre shows how space has been designed to allow for the greatest possible flexibility. The layout can be altered at any time to support changes in the company’s corporate dynamics. This approach and all the energy-saving structures built in accordance with eco-sustainable principles make the Nokia Centre a truly ethical organism to help safeguard the natural resources of the Earth that are still intact.

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Visual Rationalism Ruoholahti, Nokia Research Centre Project by Tuomo Siitonen Architects

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Detail of the frontage showing the steel panelling.

n the firm belief that Nature and technology never conflict or compete with each other, Siitonen has designed an authentic “machine” vibrating with light and colour variations, a sort of gigantic microchip or microprocessor evoking the world of electronics, where Nokia is one of the leading manufacturers of mobile phones, satellite decoders and wireless systems. Finland, or Alvar Aalto and Nokia, two important national monuments: the history of architecture and the future through global connection on a planetary scale. And a building, the Nokia Research Centre, inspired by the vibration of light. Thanks to the double layer of glass and steel acting as an optical filter around the bearing structure of the building constructed in Ruoholahti near Helsinki, the architectural mass levitates, dematerialising through an interplay of light and shadow, opacity and transparency. When architecture gently alludes and slowly reveals itself, a state of grace has perhaps been achieved by Siitonen, an “anthropological” architect who continues an approach that, from Aalto onwards, has always put people at the heart of every project as the real generators of spaces. Space shared with Nature, which in Finland, and every other country in Northern Europe, is the conditio sine qua non for a lifestyle in harmony with architecture. Nature emerges not just in the interpenetration between builtscape and natural surroundings, but also in the structure of buildings composed of a skeleton wrapped in a skin which, during the severe Finnish winters, provides shelter from the cold yet, thanks to extensive use of glass, is also intensely open to outside events: the changing seasons, mutating landscape, variations in light. Everything has a role to play in a land where the conifer woods begin just a few yards away from your front door. Nature’s presence is manifested not just in the natural landscape or territorial surroundings, but also in certain biological processes, the ability of an organism to adapt to its environment. The site plan of the Nokia Research Centre shows how space has been designed to allow for the greatest possible flexibility. The layout can be altered at any time to support changes in the company’s corporate dynamics. This approach and all the energy-saving structures built in accordance with eco-sustainable principles make the Nokia Centre a truly ethical organism to help safeguard the natural resources of the Earth that are still intact.

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Detail of the surrounding glass panel screen, a component of the interior lighting and ventilation system. Facing page, the lobby is lit by natural light thanks to the glass roof.


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Detail of the surrounding glass panel screen, a component of the interior lighting and ventilation system. Facing page, the lobby is lit by natural light thanks to the glass roof.


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Views of the Research Centre, showing its intricate layout.


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Views of the Research Centre, showing its intricate layout.


The auditorium and a meeting room. Facing page, the auditorium forms a sort of separate building inside the lobby.

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The auditorium and a meeting room. Facing page, the auditorium forms a sort of separate building inside the lobby.

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Three-Pointed Superstar Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz Museum Project by UN Studio Ben van Berkel & Caroline Bos

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This page and facing page, diagrams of the internal circulation system and a view of the museum location.

ompact, meticulously designed details, an original layout with erudite references to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Mercedes Museum presents a new pattern in museum design by introducing the concept of spatial simultaneity between exterior and interior through continual transitions between closed and open spaces. The world of the automobile is evoked in the spiral ramps and in a layout that calls to mind a mechanical feature of a camshaft (as well as the three-pointed Mercedes star). In other words, a motoring feature has been amplified beyond measure to generate a macrostructure, a work of architecture symbolising a new relationship between container and content: in this case, the concept of motion is expressed not only through dynamic forms, but also through the ideal motion produced in the metamorphosis from micro to macro. The project for the new museum was awarded to the winner of an international competition, for which ten well-known firms of architects were invited to submit entries: Asymptote (New York), Alberto Campo Baeza (Madrid), Beucker Maschlanka + Partner (Düsseldorf), Hans Kollhoff (Berlin), Djordjevic-Müller (Stuttgart), Schneider-Schumacher (Frankfurt/Stuttgart), Kazuyo Sejima-Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo), Angélil Graham Pfenninger Scholl (Zurich/Los Angeles), LedererRagnarsdottir-Oei (Stuttgart). The museum complex, on a surface area of approximately 60,000 m2, is located on an industrial site to the northwest of the city, in an area where Mercedes is the most important industrial occupant: the roads adjoining the site are called Mercedesstrasse and Benzstrasse. The museum has a double identity: its compact exterior, concealing the building’s actual dimensions, approximately 200,000 cubic metres, is constructed almost entirely in exposed reinforced concrete, whose mass is relieved by apertures in the form of broad glass swathes with a rationalist feel. In contrast, the interior is a more complex environment, composed of inlets, floors set in different directions, a place just waiting to be discovered, with a wealth of items on display. The museum contents are basically divided into two sections (for a total of 90 vehicles, 40 racing cars and 40 commercial vehicles): a collection of vehicles displayed in chronological order and a retrospective of the Mercedes-Benz legend. Everything you could need to enhance the prestige of a brand whose continual innovations in car design and engine technology have made it one of the most important names in the history of luxury automobiles.

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Three-Pointed Superstar Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz Museum Project by UN Studio Ben van Berkel & Caroline Bos

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This page and facing page, diagrams of the internal circulation system and a view of the museum location.

ompact, meticulously designed details, an original layout with erudite references to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Mercedes Museum presents a new pattern in museum design by introducing the concept of spatial simultaneity between exterior and interior through continual transitions between closed and open spaces. The world of the automobile is evoked in the spiral ramps and in a layout that calls to mind a mechanical feature of a camshaft (as well as the three-pointed Mercedes star). In other words, a motoring feature has been amplified beyond measure to generate a macrostructure, a work of architecture symbolising a new relationship between container and content: in this case, the concept of motion is expressed not only through dynamic forms, but also through the ideal motion produced in the metamorphosis from micro to macro. The project for the new museum was awarded to the winner of an international competition, for which ten well-known firms of architects were invited to submit entries: Asymptote (New York), Alberto Campo Baeza (Madrid), Beucker Maschlanka + Partner (Düsseldorf), Hans Kollhoff (Berlin), Djordjevic-Müller (Stuttgart), Schneider-Schumacher (Frankfurt/Stuttgart), Kazuyo Sejima-Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo), Angélil Graham Pfenninger Scholl (Zurich/Los Angeles), LedererRagnarsdottir-Oei (Stuttgart). The museum complex, on a surface area of approximately 60,000 m2, is located on an industrial site to the northwest of the city, in an area where Mercedes is the most important industrial occupant: the roads adjoining the site are called Mercedesstrasse and Benzstrasse. The museum has a double identity: its compact exterior, concealing the building’s actual dimensions, approximately 200,000 cubic metres, is constructed almost entirely in exposed reinforced concrete, whose mass is relieved by apertures in the form of broad glass swathes with a rationalist feel. In contrast, the interior is a more complex environment, composed of inlets, floors set in different directions, a place just waiting to be discovered, with a wealth of items on display. The museum contents are basically divided into two sections (for a total of 90 vehicles, 40 racing cars and 40 commercial vehicles): a collection of vehicles displayed in chronological order and a retrospective of the Mercedes-Benz legend. Everything you could need to enhance the prestige of a brand whose continual innovations in car design and engine technology have made it one of the most important names in the history of luxury automobiles.

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This page, the museum in its urban surroundings. Facing page, plan of the fifth level, perspective section and detail of a faรงade element.


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This page, the museum in its urban surroundings. Facing page, plan of the fifth level, perspective section and detail of a faรงade element.


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Corporate Transparencies Hanover, Norddeutsche Landesbank Project by Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner

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he digital revolution has abolished straight lines and right angles. Expanded structures, visionary neo-organic forms, at times totally unorthodox, are appearing all over the world. Nevertheless, some people still feel close ties with modernist “geometry”. Perhaps some distinction between man’s creations and Nature was only to be expected, to emphasise the difference between the natural and the artificial, to combat a sort of standardisation virtually imposed by a media entranced by the incredibly seductive lure of science fiction. Transparency and stylistic simplicity are grounding features of Behnisch’s artistry, producing an architecture related to the great masters of the 20th century. First and foremost, Pierre Chareau, who designed the well known Maison de Verre, the archetype of dematerialised, transparent architecture that blurs the boundaries between inside and outside to make both perceptible simultaneously. The project is awarded. Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner win the competition to design the headquarters of Norddeutsche Landesbank in Hanover. Banking clients usually favour easily identifiable, reassuring architecture: a bank is a serious and professional custodian of other people's money, so there is no room for digital

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Detail of the glass tunnels fitted with curved and convex laminated glass panels connecting the various areas of the complex, and, facing page, general view.

experimentation which could have a negative fall-out on corporate image. The new building occupies a block between Friedrichswall and some residential districts. Steel, glass and a courtyard-style site plan create a complex with a striking impact on its surroundings, despite the predominance of structures with broad glass surfaces that help lighten the building mass. An imposing landmark, whose powerful identity derives from its disjointed configuration. A 6-storey perimeter houses restaurants and retail spaces, from which a 17-storey tower projects, linked to other structures facing in various directions to give the entire complex a powerful outward thrust, towards the city, ideally penetrating and merging with the surrounding urban fabric. The site plan, basically a radial layout, is ideal for energy saving purposes. The double laminated glass façades, constructed in various degrees of thickness and transparency, ensure maximum natural illumination, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting, while the natural ventilation system housed in the cavity wall avoids the need for an air-conditioning plant. A system of sunscreen panels to reduce sun radiance in summer coupled with double glazing enhances protection of conditions inside the building.

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Corporate Transparencies Hanover, Norddeutsche Landesbank Project by Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner

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he digital revolution has abolished straight lines and right angles. Expanded structures, visionary neo-organic forms, at times totally unorthodox, are appearing all over the world. Nevertheless, some people still feel close ties with modernist “geometry”. Perhaps some distinction between man’s creations and Nature was only to be expected, to emphasise the difference between the natural and the artificial, to combat a sort of standardisation virtually imposed by a media entranced by the incredibly seductive lure of science fiction. Transparency and stylistic simplicity are grounding features of Behnisch’s artistry, producing an architecture related to the great masters of the 20th century. First and foremost, Pierre Chareau, who designed the well known Maison de Verre, the archetype of dematerialised, transparent architecture that blurs the boundaries between inside and outside to make both perceptible simultaneously. The project is awarded. Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner win the competition to design the headquarters of Norddeutsche Landesbank in Hanover. Banking clients usually favour easily identifiable, reassuring architecture: a bank is a serious and professional custodian of other people's money, so there is no room for digital

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Detail of the glass tunnels fitted with curved and convex laminated glass panels connecting the various areas of the complex, and, facing page, general view.

experimentation which could have a negative fall-out on corporate image. The new building occupies a block between Friedrichswall and some residential districts. Steel, glass and a courtyard-style site plan create a complex with a striking impact on its surroundings, despite the predominance of structures with broad glass surfaces that help lighten the building mass. An imposing landmark, whose powerful identity derives from its disjointed configuration. A 6-storey perimeter houses restaurants and retail spaces, from which a 17-storey tower projects, linked to other structures facing in various directions to give the entire complex a powerful outward thrust, towards the city, ideally penetrating and merging with the surrounding urban fabric. The site plan, basically a radial layout, is ideal for energy saving purposes. The double laminated glass façades, constructed in various degrees of thickness and transparency, ensure maximum natural illumination, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting, while the natural ventilation system housed in the cavity wall avoids the need for an air-conditioning plant. A system of sunscreen panels to reduce sun radiance in summer coupled with double glazing enhances protection of conditions inside the building.

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This page and facing page, views of the spacious ground-floor public area, and cross-section showing the sun’s rays hitting the building. The building is equipped with an eco-compatible system including a heat exchanger placed beneath the foundations, which supplies fresh air to the interior.

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This page and facing page, views of the spacious ground-floor public area, and cross-section showing the sun’s rays hitting the building. The building is equipped with an eco-compatible system including a heat exchanger placed beneath the foundations, which supplies fresh air to the interior.

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The full-height interiors give the impression of outdoor spaces.

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The full-height interiors give the impression of outdoor spaces.

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A Brand of Light Struer, Bang & Olufsen HQ Project by KHR arkitekter AS

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The exposed brick and glass rear façade. Facing page, the juxtaposition of buildings highlights the difference in the materials.

ediscovering the beauty in the contrast between opposites. Architecture that is silent, transparent, yet also material, sometimes even “heavy”. The setting is a gently rolling landscape enveloped in a cold light. The very cold light of Denmark. A horizontal prism that shines with its own light, seemingly placed, unfixed, on a series of unlikely piers, the headquarters of Bang & Olufsen (a manufacturer of sophisticated audio-visual equipment) is a metaphysical absence of sound, possible only in one of those northern lands where architecture is a cultured mix of rationalism and Zen mysticism. Composed of three distinct elements, two high-impact structures plus a smaller connecting section, which turns out to be the eastfacing element, entered through an imperceptible door. The way into the building is kept, of course, as simple as possible, forcing the visitor to watch constantly for signs distinguishing empty space from solid structure. The heart of the complex is a large hall, of a size that qualifies it as an authentic indoor agora. The skilful arrangement of solid parts and transparent diaphragms turns a walk through the building into a memorable spatial experience: the outside, in fact, looks like a movie sequence, with changes of scene accomplished sometimes as seamlessly as long single

takes, at other times with sudden changes in shot. The light, however, is never violent, never lacking in that magical enchantment conjured up by a thousand shades of colour and variations in tone. An effect achieved in part by clever use of laminated glass, which manages to filter without an excess of reflections, mediating the outside as it penetrates the inside and the workplaces as they project out into the landscape, superimposing images of people at work that leave a trace of humanity at every transition from one space to another. Not only do the new headquarters of Bang & Olufsen not “insult” their natural surroundings, they embellish them with values beyond mere visual perception. An achievement that must also have struck the jury of the “DuPont Benedictus Awards”, who gave an honourable mention to the Bang & Olufsen complex for the quality of its spaces and the stylistic intensity of the overall design. No mean feat, considering the proliferation of authentic architectural “carbuncles” built exclusively as displays of technological wizardry or to set new records in the strangeness stakes, and capture the attention of the media, where they will be described using the frivolous language of the gossip columns.

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IMAGE BUILDING

A Brand of Light Struer, Bang & Olufsen HQ Project by KHR arkitekter AS

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The exposed brick and glass rear façade. Facing page, the juxtaposition of buildings highlights the difference in the materials.

ediscovering the beauty in the contrast between opposites. Architecture that is silent, transparent, yet also material, sometimes even “heavy”. The setting is a gently rolling landscape enveloped in a cold light. The very cold light of Denmark. A horizontal prism that shines with its own light, seemingly placed, unfixed, on a series of unlikely piers, the headquarters of Bang & Olufsen (a manufacturer of sophisticated audio-visual equipment) is a metaphysical absence of sound, possible only in one of those northern lands where architecture is a cultured mix of rationalism and Zen mysticism. Composed of three distinct elements, two high-impact structures plus a smaller connecting section, which turns out to be the eastfacing element, entered through an imperceptible door. The way into the building is kept, of course, as simple as possible, forcing the visitor to watch constantly for signs distinguishing empty space from solid structure. The heart of the complex is a large hall, of a size that qualifies it as an authentic indoor agora. The skilful arrangement of solid parts and transparent diaphragms turns a walk through the building into a memorable spatial experience: the outside, in fact, looks like a movie sequence, with changes of scene accomplished sometimes as seamlessly as long single

takes, at other times with sudden changes in shot. The light, however, is never violent, never lacking in that magical enchantment conjured up by a thousand shades of colour and variations in tone. An effect achieved in part by clever use of laminated glass, which manages to filter without an excess of reflections, mediating the outside as it penetrates the inside and the workplaces as they project out into the landscape, superimposing images of people at work that leave a trace of humanity at every transition from one space to another. Not only do the new headquarters of Bang & Olufsen not “insult” their natural surroundings, they embellish them with values beyond mere visual perception. An achievement that must also have struck the jury of the “DuPont Benedictus Awards”, who gave an honourable mention to the Bang & Olufsen complex for the quality of its spaces and the stylistic intensity of the overall design. No mean feat, considering the proliferation of authentic architectural “carbuncles” built exclusively as displays of technological wizardry or to set new records in the strangeness stakes, and capture the attention of the media, where they will be described using the frivolous language of the gossip columns.

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These pages and following pages, the transparency turns the interior furnishings into tiny architectural objects inside the building.

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These pages and following pages, the transparency turns the interior furnishings into tiny architectural objects inside the building.

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Detail of the rough cement façade and views of interiors evoking Mies van der Rohe’s “metaphysical” spaces.

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Detail of the rough cement façade and views of interiors evoking Mies van der Rohe’s “metaphysical” spaces.

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Boundless Information Paris, head office of the Le Monde newspaper Project by Christian de Portzamparc

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Project sketches and, facing page, view of the frontage with the layered glass screen serigraphed with a page from Le Monde newspaper.

rchitecture is an art and science of a certain complexity, whose language assumes a distinction between what a building represents and what that building is as a work of architecture. The idea of giving the headquarters of a newspaper a “typographic” façade may not be particularly brilliant. Nevertheless, the building certainly makes a striking impact out on the street. The project for an urbanscale newspaper began when the newspaper group decided to build a new head office to celebrate Le Monde’s 60th anniversary. The new offices are a conversion of a 1970s building in the 13th arrondissement, previously used by Air France. De Portzamparc has radically modified the existing structure by eliminating three levels, thereby sidestepping the constraints imposed by height regulations. The eliminated space has been recovered by extending the wings of the main building to increase the horizontal width of the street face. In this way, the maximum possible surface has been obtained to maximize the impact of the architectural “full page” along the Blanquis Boulevard. The image of the group to which Le Monde belongs is mediated through a macro-scale reproduction of the newspaper’s front page, with an article by Victor Hugo on the freedom of the press, accompanied by two doves designed by the paper’s cartoonist, Plantu. Technically speaking, this was achieved by using a stratified glass screen with a serigraphed image of the page. The three layers of glass also act as an excellent filter for sunlight, lowering temperatures inside the offices. The text, drawings and glass silk-screening also draw attention away from the windows, enhancing the typographical nature of the façade. Conversely, windows are in greater evidence in the “paging” of the side façades, an irregular chequerboard pattern of rectangles in aluminium or, for the windows, in glass. The surface thus created projects a sense of industrial mass-production. Whereas the outside is notable for the characteristic absence of colour associated with the old black and white newspapers, the interiors designed by Elisabeth de Portzamparc (Christian de Portzamparc’s wife) use warm, ergonomic shades for the offices and convivial colours for the leisure zones, restaurant and cafeteria accommodated in the area beneath the sloping roof.

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Boundless Information Paris, head office of the Le Monde newspaper Project by Christian de Portzamparc

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Project sketches and, facing page, view of the frontage with the layered glass screen serigraphed with a page from Le Monde newspaper.

rchitecture is an art and science of a certain complexity, whose language assumes a distinction between what a building represents and what that building is as a work of architecture. The idea of giving the headquarters of a newspaper a “typographic” façade may not be particularly brilliant. Nevertheless, the building certainly makes a striking impact out on the street. The project for an urbanscale newspaper began when the newspaper group decided to build a new head office to celebrate Le Monde’s 60th anniversary. The new offices are a conversion of a 1970s building in the 13th arrondissement, previously used by Air France. De Portzamparc has radically modified the existing structure by eliminating three levels, thereby sidestepping the constraints imposed by height regulations. The eliminated space has been recovered by extending the wings of the main building to increase the horizontal width of the street face. In this way, the maximum possible surface has been obtained to maximize the impact of the architectural “full page” along the Blanquis Boulevard. The image of the group to which Le Monde belongs is mediated through a macro-scale reproduction of the newspaper’s front page, with an article by Victor Hugo on the freedom of the press, accompanied by two doves designed by the paper’s cartoonist, Plantu. Technically speaking, this was achieved by using a stratified glass screen with a serigraphed image of the page. The three layers of glass also act as an excellent filter for sunlight, lowering temperatures inside the offices. The text, drawings and glass silk-screening also draw attention away from the windows, enhancing the typographical nature of the façade. Conversely, windows are in greater evidence in the “paging” of the side façades, an irregular chequerboard pattern of rectangles in aluminium or, for the windows, in glass. The surface thus created projects a sense of industrial mass-production. Whereas the outside is notable for the characteristic absence of colour associated with the old black and white newspapers, the interiors designed by Elisabeth de Portzamparc (Christian de Portzamparc’s wife) use warm, ergonomic shades for the offices and convivial colours for the leisure zones, restaurant and cafeteria accommodated in the area beneath the sloping roof.

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Project sketch of the lobby and, facing page, side faรงade clad with aluminium and glass panels camouflaging the old building.

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Project sketch of the lobby and, facing page, side faรงade clad with aluminium and glass panels camouflaging the old building.

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From top, one of the communal spaces and a corridor.

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From top, a public space and the lobby on to Boulevard Blanquis.


From top, one of the communal spaces and a corridor.

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From top, a public space and the lobby on to Boulevard Blanquis.


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A logo, a story … from the official presentation with all its expectations to the instructions and rules for the correct application of the new graphics. Behind all the plaudits, behind all the praise and recognition, internal and external, lay a long project of strategic importance. The Italcementi Group brand, designed by London’s Wolff Olins agency, is ten years old and it is time for an assessment. While taking a nostalgic look back and smiling at the inevitable mistakes, Italcementi Group is already preparing for the future, secure in the support of an image that has proved its worth both in and outside the Group.

IT WAS TEN YEARS AGO Ten years after the launch of the Italcementi Group corporate identity on 10 March 1997, a milestone in the company’s development, the ideas and values proposed then are as relevant as ever. They are re-presented in these articles, through a series of extracts reprising the declarations of the Group’s senior management at the time of the 1997 press presentation.

A great little revolution ... and the way it was presented to the press An extract from the 1997 press conference. The questions were answered by the Italcementi Group’s senior management*. The event was attended by a large number of journalists from the leading business and trade publications in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, the USA, Morocco, Turkey and the UK.

BERGAMO, MARCH 10, 1997 Il Giornale (Italy). A few questions for Mr Pesenti. First, I’d like to ask whether this sort of Copernican revolution, by which you have appeared in front of an audience of journalists for more than an hour, will continue to be a feature of the Group’s information strategy given its global ambitions. Also, if, as you say, one of the goals of this integration process, of the Italcementi Group system, is to boost profitability: what is the average profitability in the industry and what level do you want to reach? Does the integration of local business operations offer objective efficiency gains and what are they? In other words, is it possible to standardise products and materials intended for countries with very different climates and environment? Giampiero Pesenti. As far as communication with the press is concerned, looking back over the last ten years, I would say that I have made some progress, although I probably still have a lot to learn. However, I have made the effort and this in itself is an indication of my good intentions. Regarding production synergies, the basic cement production process is the same all over the world. Of course, some countries, China for example, still have thousands of cement plants with

Merci, Madame la Ministre ! In February 2007, France’s Foreign Trade Minister, Christine Lagarde, who has since been appointed Minister of the Economy, Finance and Employment, met an Italcementi Group delegation in Rome. During the meeting, Ms Lagarde saw the Group logo. Her comment: “What an excellent, wonderful logo!”

vertical shaft kilns, which were in use in Italy in the nineteenth century, but the technology is fairly widespread today. What is less widespread is the technological know-how to operate the machinery, and get the best out of equipment that may be the same everywhere, but does not always produce the same results. The difference depends on the choice of raw materials and the level of sophistication of production methods: production methods may be manual or they may be governed by complex statistical computer software that improves equipment performance. What we want to do is extend our know-how from one country to another, so that improvements are applied in all Group companies. You have to remember that the Group has been built up in a relatively short period of time, given that Ciments Français began the majority of its acquisitions at the end of the 1980s, purchasing companies that were entirely unrelated to one another. With the acquisition of Ciments Français, the main challenge is to circulate know-how and information from one company to another in order to optimise performance wherever we operate. As I said, transporting our products from one country to another is difficult, because transport costs are a significant factor. But some countries can take advantage of cement plants located by the sea or by rivers to assist international trading. For example, we have an important equity investment in Cyprus, where the cement plant is situated by the sea and has its own private port, from where it can export to the Middle East. As you rightly said, the product has to be adapted to suit the climate in which it is used (building construction in countries with very cold climates like Canada is not the same as building in Morocco, which has a warmer climate and milder winters), in terms

of strength and composition. Then there are special types of application that require detailed product know-how: if you are building a dam for example, heat-related problems can arise which could create large flaws within the body of the dam. Special types of cement are needed for these projects: engineers who have been involved on dam construction acquire the necessary expertise, while someone involved in building a large dam in a country that has never constructed a dam before would not have the requisite know-how. Our advantage is that we can transfer our expertise from one country to another through integration, which also extends to the various types of product. To answer your question about future profitability, we can make many improvements. Of course, a lot also depends on market trends, because when demand rises, prices and sales volumes increase, and profitability improves. It also improves in countries where development continues to rise. In some countries, construction work is growing by 8-10% every year and presents a three-year constant growth projection. Italy, unfortunately, has been experiencing negative growth for the last four years, and the situation is similar in France. This alone indicates the advantages of a diversified geographical presence to boost profitability. Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy). The new campaign is extremely effective in terms of both content and image. Can you tell us how much it cost? Sergio Crippa. I wouldn’t want to embarrass Wolff Olins. We know how much we paid, but we don’t know how much WO charges its other clients. Joking apart, I would say that the investment in the identity analysis and development is just under one billion lire. La Tribune (France). What will be the fourth phase in the relationship between Ciments Français and Italcementi, if technology was the first, management the second, and identity the third?


Group photo of the Executive Committee during the press conference for the launch of the new Italcementi Group identity on 10 March 1997. In the middle Giampiero Pesenti, Chairman of the Executive Committee. From left, Bruno Isabella, Antoine Gendry, Ettore Rossi, Yves René Nanot, Pierfranco Barabani, Jean-Paul Méric, Vittorio Ortolani, Jean-Pierre Eymery.

Giampiero Pesenti. We are probably looking at additional integration. But how and when is something we haven’t decided yet. Il Giornale dell’Edilizia (Italy). How will the ‘Calcestruzzi’ brand acquired by Italcementi be used inside Italcementi Group? Giampiero Pesenti. We were very insistent with the seller that we wanted to acquire the ‘Calcestruzzi’ brand together with the company. It is a very important brand and we intend to keep it. AFP-Agence France Presse (France). This integration is certainly a turning point in the history of the French and the Italian companies, on an industrial level, and at the commercial, technological and financial levels; but at a social level isn’t there a risk that somewhere there will be a price to be paid? This is a cultural issue, and my impression is that some people in Ciments Français think that one of the family heirlooms is moving to the other side. Yves René Nanot. I don’t think there is a price to be paid at a social level. Cement is not a product like steel or aluminium where production operations previously conducted in different locations can be grouped together in a larger, more modern facility. Synergies are not generated by production integration; as Mr Pesenti said, they are generated through products, technology, professional know-how, expertise in the use of cement for special concretes, for example. Synergies are not created by the size and scale of manufacturing facilities, so I really don’t see how there will be a social price to be paid for this integration. La Repubblica (Italy). At the top of your Group’s corporate structure, Italmobiliare controls Italcementi, which controls Ciments Français. Given that all markets benefit from structural simplification, is a merger between Italcementi-Ciments

Français possible, and if so which of the two companies would disappear? Giampiero Pesenti. We have no plans for a merger at the moment. I cannot rule it out for the future, but we shall see. La Stampa (Italy). You have talked about product research and innovation. So I imagine you have product R&D centres in Bergamo and in France. Will the integration of the two companies lead to product research operations being relocated to a single site? Vittorio Ortolani. Our research focuses essentially on products, both cement-based materials and actual cements, and is concerned with quality, performance, and durability. The division has around 450 employees, of whom 150 work in research. There are two research units, the central site of the CTG Group Technical Centre in Bergamo, and a secondary unit in Guerville, about 40 kilometres from Paris. And our research work in the two units is not duplicated, it is complementary and focuses on different typologies. Both centres conduct research into materials and products, but use different typologies and criteria. MF (Italy). Regarding your plans to expand in emerging countries, this will take place through acquisitions, so, if you already have plans or are involved in talks, how will you integrate this process with your programme to increase profitability? Yves René Nanot. The need for an international growth analysis stems from the fact that at the moment Italcementi Group essentially works in developed countries: more than 80% of our sales today come from Western Europe and North America. These countries generate a better cash flow, but we believe their future growth and development will be limited. Growth in these countries will be flat, with upward and downward cycles, but overall it will be flat. The challenge for the

Group is to have manufacturing operations in countries with growth in the order of 6-8%. Today, these countries are only in Asia, Latin America and potentially, Eastern Europe. So we have to find projects that meet our criteria: risks, growth potential, and profit potential: for example, countries whose prices are kept at low levels are not as interesting as countries that are growing fast and have free prices. In the event of new investments, the only dispersive effect would be the financial expense of the investment during the construction stage: in other words, it takes 2 or 3 years to build a factory today, and it is true that you have to immobilise capital which yields no return until the factory begins operations; but after that, if our growth and profit criteria are correct, these investments will have a contribution to make. L’Economiste (Morocco). My first question concerns communication: my impression is that you have stopped halfway. Why haven’t you gone all the way and chosen a single business name and single logo for all your products all over the world, given that your competitors often do this, even if cement is a local product? Why haven’t you gone further and given all the Group companies the name Italcementi Group or whatever? My second question concerns your goals. You say your goal is efficiency, rather than to be number one in your industry, which is often the credo of all the major players. Are you saying that you intend to block your growth, or moderate your growth, rather than move ahead with a more aggressive policy on revenues or on installed capacity? Giampiero Pesenti. Regarding the change of name of the companies around the world, given that cement, as we said earlier, is a product sold locally and since we are talking about companies whose name and brand is well known in

their home countries, we decided it was inadvisable to change their names. These companies have built their success with those names and we decided we should simply underline their membership of the group by adding the Italcementi Group endorsement. So the answer to your question is that our guiding principle is strictly based on the concept “world class, local business”. Yves René Nanot. Your second question was about our goals. The goals we have set are profitability objectives. Growth in order to climb the industry rankings is not one of our goals. Our goal is to be the top group in terms of profitability, which is measured in terms of operating results on invested capital. Our current ratio, though still low, is one of the best compared with the other cement groups as a whole. We want to raise that ratio. This will only be possible by finding new areas for growth to increase our revenues, without necessarily moving into a higher echelon of the cement group hierarchy. Our goal is to improve profit margins in order to boost total profitability. L’Usine Nouvelle (France). You mentioned possible growth in emerging countries. Can you give us more details about which countries and how growth would be achieved (acquisitions or internal growth)? Giampiero Pesenti. I don’t think it would be appropriate to name the countries we have looked at or where we have plans. Also, I would risk excluding countries that might be candidates or naming others that will not be candidates in the long run. So I don’t want to say which countries we are looking at now; what I can say is there are about a dozen of them. Coming to the second part of your question, whether we shall be acquiring existing companies or creating new ones, we are not ruling out either possibility. Of course, in fast developing countries with an expanding industry, you are more

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likely to form companies ex novo rather than acquire them. But when you enter a market that already has a cement industry, there is a strong possibility you can acquire an existing company. Corriere della Sera (Italy). Is there a super-dollar effect on Italcementi Group accounts? Does this worldwide expansion include the possibility of an Italcementi Group listing on Wall Street? Giampiero Pesenti. Without question, the rise of the dollar against the other currencies has an effect, first of all the increased cost of energy, and fuel, but also electric power, whose price depends on fuel costs. Costs will certainly rise. By how much we shall only be able to say at the end of the year, when we know the real increase in the cost of the dollar. To answer your second question, we have no plans for listings in other countries. Il Tempo (Italy). In this globalisation and localisation process, what role will Italy play? Especially with regard to jobs, are there going to be changes? Giampiero Pesenti. I don’t see how jobs in Italy will be affected, since we have no intention of replacing our product in Italy with a product from somewhere else. We are simply trying to expand in a number of countries offering better prospects than those currently available in Europe, where the product is mature and as such destined for a slow decline. We have no intention of stopping production in Italy and then importing from other countries. Bloomberg News (USA). Regarding investments, possible acquisitions, expansion in other countries, do you have the

necessary cash in Ciments Français rather than here in Italy, or will you have to use credit facilities? What is the liquidity position of the Group as a whole? Giampiero Pesenti. The Group is in debt today, and this is nothing new. Most of our debt is in Ciments Français. The debt of the Italcementi Group in Italy is lower, although of course we shall need financing for our Calcestruzzi acquisition for which, as already announced, we shall issue a five-year zero-coupon bond, given that an acquisition of this size, for around 500 billion Italian lire, cannot be funded solely through self-financing. It would be different if we were upgrading a plant or building a new facility in an emerging country, which would involve an investment of around 200/250 million dollars over about three years, and would not require bond loans or rights issues. But in the event of very large acquisitions, should such opportunities arise, then obviously we would look for the instruments best suited to the company and to the market. Financial Times (UK). Are any acquisitions on the way? Giampiero Pesenti. I said “should such opportunities arise”, but at the moment they have not arisen. I also said that for the Calcestruzzi acquisition we have decided on a non-convertible bond, which does not affect capital, so we are not planning to increase capital. Should opportunities arise in the future, we will choose the best instrument at the time for both the company and the market. Hürriyet (Turkey). Is Italcementi planning further investments in Turkey? Yves René Nanot. As you know, we are closing the Kartal plant near Istanbul, and making significant investments to open the other facility in Ambarli. We have a series of minor projects in a number of plants, but at the moment we are not planning to invest in new facilities or make new acquisitions in Turkey. Le Figaro (France). You said earlier you would not be taking the Group on to any of the

major international financial markets. I’d like to ask why you oppose a further stock listing for now. Giampiero Pesenti. We don’t see the need for one at the moment, although in the future this could arise. I was asked whether we are thinking about a listing at the moment, and I said we have no plans now. If you were to ask me whether we would be ready in a year’s time for a listing, I would reply that if an analysis of the Italian and international financial markets showed that it would be worth our while, then we could consider it.

the emerging countries have not yet had to deal with the problem of finding replacement fuels. Last year in France and North America we used approximately 12% of our calories in the form of replacement fuel. A large number of our cement plants are equipped for this: in France at the moment five plants employ a variety of procedures (rubber tyres and automobile waste), in the USA we have two wet-process facilities that burn solvents or recycled rubber tyre waste; Belgium already has a project due to begin shortly, and Spain is looking at the introduction of these systems. In the emerging countries like Morocco, we are still at the preliminary stages: we need to determine the real local availability of replacement fuels (in Morocco, for example, used tyres don’t exist).

ANSA News Agency (Italy). I’d like to ask whether after Italcementi’s enormous effort to purchase Calcestruzzi, the Compart question is closed. Aren’t you interested in their operations in Greece? If not, is it simply due to antitrust questions, or because the Group has already made a significant financial effort? Giampiero Pesenti. We have already talked about Compart’s Greek cement plants on previous occasions: we do not intend to purchase them. We were interested before the acquisition of Ciments Français. Having opted for Ciments Français, we have already achieved significant international expansion, with 72% of our current production already located outside Italy. Yves René Nanot has told you that 80% of Group production takes place in mature countries. We believe we shall have to make further significant investments in these operations, but for the time being we are looking at emerging countries, so we have absolutely no interest in a Greek acquisition.

Pubblicità Italia (Italy). The corporate identity launch will be followed by an international advertising campaign designed by Young & Rubicam. How much have you invested at international level and in Italy, when will the campaign begin, who will be responsible for planning, and which international and Italian media will you be using? Sergio Crippa. The global investment budget is approximately 2.5 billion lire, of which about 600 million in Italy. The campaign has been handled by Young & Rubicam and will appear tomorrow in the Italian and international press in all the countries where we operate: usually, we choose the leading political daily newspaper and the leading business daily in each country, plus the main local trade publications.

Les Echos (France). You said you are a leading company in promoting and developing the use of replacement fuels in cement plants. I’d like to know how far you have got with the project, whether it is operational in all your cement plants and whether it will be a production advantage in the future. Yves René Nanot. As far as Ciments Français is concerned, this process concerns the developed countries,

* APPOINTMENTS AS AT 1997 Giampiero Pesenti (CEO and Managing Director of Italcementi), Yves René Nanot (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ciments Français), Vittorio Ortolani (Italcementi Deputy General Manager for Technical Operations and CEO of the CTG Group Technical Centre), Sergio Crippa (Italcementi Director of Group Communication & Image).


The adventure continues Interview with Sergio Crippa*

of belonging; the second is to use our new image to project our real identity, the values we represent, to the outside world. Specifically, we should be able to put into every sack of cement a little of that added value represented by the superior appeal of a product bearing the trademark of an Italcementi Group company.

Sergio Crippa

BERGAMO, MARCH 10, 1997 The presentation of the new corporate identity today marks the end of the adventure with Wolff Olins that began more than three years ago ... I would say that the presentation of the new Group identity today completes an important stage in our work … but the real challenge starts now. Why? It hasn’t been easy to introduce a process that has required everyone to make some sort of sacrifice over the last few years: relinquishing part of your past is never pleasant and is possible only if you can look ahead to more interesting, more exciting prospects; if you are strongly motivated; if the desire to progress is stronger than the desire to conserve. For this reason, the job of the Communication Division is more difficult and more complex now than it was before. What do you mean exactly? Previously, we had a set course, we knew our destination. With a few small adjustments, we knew how to get there. The Executive Committee (Comex) had given us a specific brief: a common logo, a common name, a common colour, in short, a new brand to which the old and new companies in the Group could be associated. With the creation of Italcementi Group, this brief has been achieved; so why are you saying that the work of the Group

Communication Division is more difficult now? Because we have to maintain the same high level of interest in the project. The development and presentation of the new logo bring the first stage to a close: we have created our working tools, our equipment. So a great deal now depends on our ability to use these tools to reach our goal. What do you mean by “reaching our goal”? The new corporate identity has a dual purpose: the first is internal, in other words to build a common Group culture, a shared sense

A theory that is more relevant to companies selling mass consumer goods than to those selling commodities ... I don’t agree. Growing numbers of manufacturers of undifferentiated goods are using marketing, image and communication to give a differential to a product that actually has no differences at all. Would you say the recent measures to verticalise the business are another step in this direction? Yes of course, being close to the end user means that together with your product you sell a service comprising support, experience, know-how. It is no coincidence that these are the values stressed by the Young & Rubicam advertising campaign. It is no coincidence that when the

Executive Committee Chairman Giampiero Pesenti presented the new logo to stakeholders and journalists from different countries he stated clearly that “image is not a cosmetic operation, a pure and simple restyling”. Is this why you think this will continue to be a very difficult project? Yes. Hopefully, the Executive Committee will maintain its focus on the project and continue to devote time and resources to it. Building a strong sense of being part of the Group and sharing our core values with our stakeholders are medium/long-term processes that need to be constantly fuelled and reviewed. Summing up, what is the ambition of the Communication Division today? It’s very simple: to be a tool for growth and development. * Sergio Crippa is Italcementi Director of Group Communication & Image and Responsible for International Relations. He was the co-ordinator of the corporate identity project with the London agency Wolff Olins.

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“L’imagination au pouvoir” ... when brand application goes wrong

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A

pplication of the Italcementi Group corporate identity throughout the organisation was monitored step by step by the Group Communication Division, with consultancy and technical support services provided by Wolff Olins. Six manuals were drawn up setting out detailed examples of the new visual identity for the parent company and the subsidiaries. The manuals explained, in three different languages (Italian, English, French), how the Italcementi Group endorsement, the names of the subsidiaries and the new Group symbol were to be used in any given situation, applying a uniform typographical style. The new graphics system was

introduced in 1997, at a time when the Internet and electronic mail were still an elite phenomenon and CD-ROM authoring programs were only just beginning to appear on the market. Equally important, the Group subsidiaries were located in a number of very different countries (developed and developing): USA, Canada, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Turkey. The manuals stressed repeatedly that the instructions were to be followed to the letter: “as only then will a clear, unified, and effective projection of the Group and its companies be achieved in a way that is of benefit to all”. Since the power and success of a corporate identity system depend

upon its consistent use and the values it conveys, the six volumes provided instructions and specifications for every possible application area: stationery, publications, uniforms, promotional gifts, company vehicles, signs and packaging. The Italcementi Group signature is a combination of symbol (a spiral), horizontal rule line in Gold (a Pantone colour created specially for Italcementi), logotype (the company name), endorsement (Italcementi Group). The mandatory font is Frutiger: Frutiger Black for the logotype; Frutiger Light for the endorsement. The thickness of the Gold rule line is 0.0075% of the logotype body.

The standard unit of measurement for correct use of the signature is “X”, determined as half of the body of the upper case letter in the logotype. The manuals prescribe 3 types of spiral/logotype ratio: A – used only for small-scale institutional applications, letterheads, business cards; B – used for leaflets and presentation material; C – used for large-scale applications, signs, advertising.

The following example illustrates the meticulous precision of the Wolff Olins graphics consultants in developing the trademark.


Even so …

Two different companies suddenly share the same mysterious fate! Here the spiral/logotype ratio is a combination of models B and C: – the corporate rules do not envisage a double logotype (company name); – the distance between the logotype (Arena - Ciments Calcia) and the endorsement (Italcementi Group) is wrong.

Mind your back! – the distance between the spiral and the logotype is wrong; – the Gold rule line is not aligned with the top of the spiral.

A bit of everything – too much space between the spiral and the logotype, and between the logotype and the endorsement; – the Gold rule line is too short and too thick; – the logotype/spiral ratio is wrong.

Memorandum

Abandon all hope All the rule line/spiral and rule line/logotype alignments have disappeared and the distance between the spiral and the logotype is wrong.

The accidental graphics artist – the Gold rule line should be longer, and aligned with the top of the spiral; – the word ‘Invitation’ should be placed beneath the rule line, and aligned to the right with the end of the rule line and the lower edge of the spiral. Stroke of genius! The incorrect proportions in the previous examples are nothing compared with this beauty. The Gold rule line has disappeared, the Frutiger Black font has not been used for the logotype, and the components of the trademark have been dismantled and re-arranged in a burst of unbridled creativity.

And to think it was all spelled out so carefully!

No holds barred The lengthwise extension of the trademark sometimes makes it difficult to use on gadgets and promotional items … but cutting it up to turn the spiral into a sort of Rolex mark takes some doing!

A sackful of mistakes The fonts are wrong and the rule line is missing.

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Italcementi Group Today

Profile Italcementi Group is the fifth-largest cement producer in the world, the biggest in the Mediterranean area. The parent company Italcementi S.p.A. is a subsidiary of Italmobiliare: both companies are listed on the Milan Stock Exchange.

Our vision Production and distribution of cement, ready-mixed concrete and aggregates are local businesses conducted by Italcementi Group with a global approach: world class resources and technology are employed to meet the specific needs of each customer on each market. Proud of its cultural attributes and distinguishing features, Italcementi Group aims to act as a united worldwide team. Enhancing its technological leadership is the approach adopted by a Group committed to increasing the value of its companies, products and services, improving the skills of its personnel and ensuring compliance with quality and safety standards.

Our history In 2004, Italcementi celebrated the 140th anniversary of its foundation in 1864. Expansion has been achieved largely through the acquisition of other cement manufacturing firms to give Italcementi a strong market position and establish it as the leading cement manufacturer in Italy. In 1992, after a series of foreign acquisitions, the Group took a major step in its internationalisation programme to become one of the world’s leading cement producers, with the acquisition of Ciments Français, already present in France, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, the United States and Canada. In 1997 Italcementi completed a downstream integration when it acquired Calcestruzzi, becoming Italian market leader in ready-mixed concrete. From 1998 on the Group resumed its internationalisation strategy through the acquisition of new facilities in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Morocco, India, Egypt, the USA and, lately, China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Who we are now With a staff of more than 23,000, Italcementi Group’s companies combine the expertise, know-how and cultures of 22 countries. With 2006 revenues amounting to 5,854 million euro, the Group has an industrial network of 62 cement plants, 15 grinding centres, 5 terminals, 139 aggregates quarries and 610 concrete batching units.

Quality The main objective of Italcementi Group is to continuously improve the quality of its products and services in order to achieve customer satisfaction. It pursues this objective through the Quality Policy and Objectives, consistently with its Environment and Safety Policies. Initiatives are designed to promote Sustainable Development and involve all the staff. In accordance with the ISO 9001:2000 standard, Italcementi Group wants to reinforce the Quality concept through a Quality Management System covering all corporate processes. All Group companies have introduced ISO 9001:2000–compliant Quality Management Systems.

Technology In 1994 the outstanding scientific and technological know-how of Italcementi Group merged into CTG, the Group Technical Centre, whose primary activities are product and technology R&D, design and production of plant and equipment, technical assistance and production monitoring.

Italcementi Group - Via G. Camozzi, 124 - 24121 Bergamo, Italy - Tel. +39 035 396 111 - www.italcementigroup.com


Sustainable Development Italcementi Group is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a body supported by 190 international groups. In July 2002 the Group signed the Agenda for Action, a five-year action plan for industrial expansion based on social, economic and environmental principles to safeguard the future for the new generations. In June 2005, the first progress report of the Agenda for Action was published, documenting the delivery of pledges made in 2002. To further confirm its commitment on these issues, the Group was elected to the co-chairmanship of the Cement Sustainability Initiative for the period 2006-2007. Within Italcementi Group, the Environment Policy and the Safety Policy are an integral part of the corporate mission. The Environment Policy aims at achieving the best balance between the use of natural resources and long-term economic growth, while ensuring a better quality of life for present and future generations. At the end of 2006, 41 Group cement plants had obtained ISO 14001 environmental certification, and another 10 applications are planned in 2007. The use of non-conventional fuels continues to grow in many countries in which the Group is present. The Safety Policy started in 2000 with the Zero Accidents Project, which integrates the workplace safety programmes adopted in individual countries. This project has been gradually implemented in the cement and construction materials sectors. Between 2000-2006 accident frequency rates in the cement plants fell by more than 68% overall and more than 70% in the cement sector.

A worldwide presence (as at September 2007)

NORTH AMERICA (USA/CANADA)

BULGARIA DEVNYA CEMENT VULKAN

ESSROC AXIM ESSROC SAN JUAN CIMENT QUEBEC (JV 50%)

KAZAKHSTAN SHYMKENT CEMENT

SPAIN

CHINA

FINANCIERA Y MINERA CEMENTOS REZOLA CEMENTOS GOLIAT HORMIGONES Y MINAS HORMISUR

FUPING CEMENT

INDIA ZUARI CEMENT SRI VISHNU

THAILAND

MOROCCO

JALAPRATHAN CEMENT ASIA CEMENT

CIMENTS DU MAROC BETOMAR AXIM MAROC

SAUDI ARABIA ARABIAN READY MIX COMPANY

FRANCE CIMENTS FRANCAIS CIMENTS CALCIA AXIM GSM UNIBETON SOCLI

BELGIUM

ITALY

GREECE

TURKEY

CCB

ITALCEMENTI CALCESTRUZZI CTG SOCIETÀ DEL GRES AXIM ITALIA ITALGEN

HALYPS CEMENT DOMIKI BETON ET BETON

SET SET CIMENTO

Albania, Gambia, Kuwait and Sri Lanka (terminals) Mauritania (grinding centre)

EGYPT

CYPRUS VASSILIKO CEMENT

SUEZ CEMENT TOURAH CEMENT HELWAN CEMENT RMB

After the closure of the 2006 financial year ... … in March, Italcementi Group strengthened its activities in the field of concrete. By means of two transactions carried out in North America (acquisition of Arrow in the United States and Cambridge in Canada) the Group has increased overall concrete sales by approximately 4%. ... in June, Italcementi Group acquired in central China Fuping Cement Co. Ltd. The acquisition marks Italcementi Group’s entry into China, an area that alone accounts for approximately one half of the world cement market and offers important potential for further growth. ... in August, as part of its growth strategy in the Middle East, Italcementi

Group has taken control of Hilal Cement Company, a company listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Hilal Cement operates two terminals in southern Kuwait. ... in September, Italcementi Group announced the formation of an equally owned joint venture with Arabian Cement Company, as part of its existing cooperation agreement with the Saudi enterprise. The new company, Arabian Ready Mix Company, is to operate in ready mixed concrete. Thus the Group is now present in 22 countries all over the world.



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