Mutti _ Ex Machina

Design Team: Laertis-Antonios Ando Vassiliou, Pantelis Kampouropoulos, Michalis Takopoulos, Anna Rosa Moschouti Vermeer
Collaborators: Attilio Ranieri, Laura Nielen, Christopher Malheiros (, Francesco Garofalo (, SPIE (, ASK ROMEIN (, Rooftop Energy (

OPA - Open Platform for Architecture was selected and invited as one of the seven competitors for the regeneration of Mutti Headquarters in Parma, Italy. The idea competition, called “Radici E Futuro” lasted for three months (March-May 2016) and took place among Arup, Carlo Ratti Associati, Henn Architecten, Frederico Oliva Architetti, NORD Copenhagen, OPA and West8.

The challenging part of the project was that Mutti’s factory already functions properly. Mutti knows how to organize a complicate production line as their facilities manage to host more than 60 trucks full of tomatoes daily, process them and produce this high-end products that thousands of people globally enjoy. Yet, there is something missing in the existing, not very beautiful factory: The redesign of the architectural identity of the company, interventions that would give the to the Headquarters the prestige of a world-leading company.

Therefore the main question that OPA needed to address was:

“How to (re)design an industrial building of a leading industry and brand, against experienced and skillful competitors without ending up off-scope”.

OPA Design Approach

OPA’s main focus is to design spaces with personality, most of the times a cinematic atmosphere. OPA imagine their projects as protagonists in the movies or sets for commercials. They design spaces where people would like to live in, to work in, to perform in. They design spaces with “soul”.

Every project starts with principal directions, which may differ from project to project. For Mutti’s factory two strong directions were applied: the notions of surprise and the creation of atmosphere.

These directions resulted to the following Scope Ambitions for Mutti’s HQ:

MONUMENTAL: We wanted to create something of monumental dimensions. Although this size is not something strange for a major industry, for our concept it would help to make a statement.

LANDMARK: This statement would automatically transform the industrial building into a landmark, for the surrounding province but also for the whole area of Emilia Romagna.  

LANDSCAPE: Yet this landmark would be also harmonically integrated with the landscape, like a piece of Land Art, or an open-air sculpture.

PUBLIC SPACE: By being integrated with the landscape, it will provide public space for the visitors and employees. It will be a beautiful place for work, visit or exploration.

FUNCTIONAL: But apart from a beautiful, monumental and public space it will have to remain functional. As a factory it is a machine that needs to continue operating, performing, producing.

SUSTAINABLE: But this performance and production should be as sustainable as possible, with respect to the environment and use of renewal energy sources.

PERFECT MACHINE: Overall we want to create a machine perfect in all aspects, which will be an example of aesthetics, functionality and performance.

A perfect machine called “Ex Machina”.

These ambitions led to the creation of key elements, revolving around the notions of radici and futuro (roots and future).

This lifted ground of Green Slopes, symbolizing the “roots”, surrounds two major sides of the factory, the most visible from the surrounding and simultaneously integrates the museum into the green landscape. The slopes of suspended ground contain different functions, such as storage spaces, relaxation lodge for the truck drivers and a parking-waiting area for the loaded trucks. Yet, employees and visitors at the factory will not have a direct view to these functional spaces. They are going to be covered with vertical plantation and the History Wall, the open-air museum of the company. The History Wall is simultaneously the tangible symbol of the radici, where the historical roots of the factory and the area are exhibited.  A walk-around these walls will provide a visual documentation of the story of Mutti, for both the employees and the visitors. Another part of Radici and its roots is the old buildings, many of which are selected to be preserved and renovated in order to create an interesting dialogue with the new elements. Some other buildings will be preserved but will have their facades renovated with new materials.

The main venues frame selected view perspectives, creating a visual continuation of the artificial sloped landscape and the blend of planted atriums and existing green landscape.  The pathways (venues) are creating an infrastructural cross within the factory, interconnecting the entrances with the main atrium.

Mutti’s high-end products are used in kitchens all over the world. Famous restaurants, alond with hundreds of thousands households prefer to use the brand. As an homage to Mutti’s values and success, we think there is no better place to introduce visitors to the delicious world of Mutti products than a restaurant within the Mutti HQ premises, overlooking the green fields of Pianura Padana.

A very important part of our strategy is to actually preserve and not interrupt the ongoing production line, both from an aspect of function and placement. Changing the position and location of the machinery is something that we tried to avoid, since this could create logistics problems in the future. Our goal was to relocate as less machinery as possible in order to create the venues and the atria.

All these buildings, units, layers, atria, venues and slopes will be covered and unified under “one sky”, the common future covering the roots (futuro). Therefore a hyperslab was designed, with multiple functions and sustainability benefits. This hyperslab is the platform which carries the modular PV units (Eschers) (14.339units=24.500sqm of PV panels=3.5-4MW annual) and the collector of rain water (which is a lot in the area: 843lt/m2 x 90.000m2= 75870 cubic meters). This water can be used for the production and for the unloading of the tomatos. The Escher units are diamond shaped modular units, designed in four different types with three different sustainable functions and one aesthetic: 1) Carrying PV panels which cover the orientation from East to West, 2) Bringing natural light inside the factory through the glazed surface on top, 3) Contributing to the total ventilation of the factory through their two perforated sides. Aesthetically, they work as branding units, as they are colored in the company colors, creating a unique, mesmerizing pattern from above declaring the identity of the company as a branded jewellery in the landscape.