Fire stations of the world: Fire Brigade Margreid, Italy
Welcome to the Italian Alps, land of craggy peaks, crystalline lakes, delicious cured ham and a volunteer fire station that would enjoy a crazy successful second run as a vacation home for the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld should it ever be decommissioned. Dubbed im fels, German for "The Rock," with German being the lingua franca of Italy's South Tyrol province, Fire Brigade Margreid is carved into the side of a rock, a mountain, really. While this Alpine firehouse-cum-super villain's lair is certainly dramatic, you'd be inclined to think that it might have just been easier to build a standalone structure than excavate three large caverns, two for apparatus and one for administrative space, from the face of a 300-foot cliff. Located entirely within the Alps, South Tyrol is incredibly mountainous but not that mountainous. However, according to Italian architecture firm Bergmeister Wolf, residents of this picturesque wine-producing region were behind the decision to insert the station into the side of a mountain rather than erect a traditional structure, "The building could have been placed on a normal lot but the community decided to build the fire station into the rock," explain the architects. "Therefore valuable ground has been saved and can be used for agriculture." Good deal and the town is saving big on heating and cooling bills, too, thanks to all that natural insulation.
A rock face is the location of the new volunteer fire brigade of Margreid on the wine street. Three big caverns are drilled into the rock and interlinked with a cross cut. A black pigmented concrete wall stands in front of the rock, with the same inclination as the mountain. The three caverns dock on to this concrete wall.
The wall is the main architectural element of the fire brigade and at the same time a protection against down falling stones. The architects chose concrete as the material for the wall: durable, strong and powerful; the dark colour is achieved by the application of beech coal dust and should bear resemblance to burned wood.
Three corpuses penetrate this wall. Two garages break through forming portals which are covered with black coated steel. These garages are closed with glass folding gates, which allowsthe red fire engines to be seen from the outside. In the area of the office and administration wing the wall is broken through by a cantilevered pending glass cube which gives free sight in all directions and brings light into the inside.
The interior of the caverns is characterised by simple materials, wood, glass and steel are used subtly and contrast the cavern with its harsh plastered surface. In terms of sustainability the fire brigade differentiates itself in two points from other projects, the positioning of the building and the overall energy concept. The building could have been placed on a normal lot as most of the houses but because of the rare grounds in the alpine context the community decided to build the fire station into the rock. Therefore valuable ground has been saved and can be used for agriculture.
This means an active contribution to save resources. in order to reduce running costs and contribute to environment protection the community of Margreid wanted to build an energy efficient building. This also encouraged to the decision to place the building into the rock where only the glass entrances face the outside (-10°c in winter). The rest of the building lays inside the rock (+12°c in winter).
As a result heating costs were reduced and therefore energy is saved. In addition, a dynamic simulation of the heat flow allowed to select the parts of rock which had to be insulated. Consequently only the administration of the station had to be covered with thermal insulation while the garages could be heated with the natural temperature of the surrounding rock. The remaining glass surfaces are carried out in triple heat absorbing glass. The residual energy for heating and hot water is covered with an ecological pellets heater system.
Source: Mother Nature Network and Arch Daily