Here’s S.Pellegrino’s new home

Starchitect Bjarke Ingels wins the contest to change the looks to the historic plant. With a super investment worth 90 mln


Arches will be the dominating element in the renewed headquarters of S.Pellegrino in San Pellegrino Terme

The significant investment, 90 million euros over four years, will not only give a brand new plant to S.Pellegrino in the homonymous town in Lombardy, it will also restate the strong liaison between the water giant and its territory, allowing the brand to gain global visibility, as the new flagship factory aims to attract many people interested in what’s good and beautiful.

The final results of the international contest were announced this week. Through the contest, the brand controlled by multinational Nestlé selected the new look it will give to the place where it was born and where it has strong roots, in San Pellegrino Terme, Bergamo. The ambitious project of starchitect Biarke Ingels, from Danish architectural firm BIG, triumphed. They are curating other huge projects around the world, such as the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Google Campus in Mountain View, California, the World Trade Center 2 in New York, as well as Lego’s new home.

Starchitect Bjarke Ingels, in the middle, with Sanpellegrino’s CEO Stefano Agostini, during the presentation of the new S.Pellegrino Flagship factory

Starchitect Bjarke Ingels, in the middle, with Sanpellegrino’s CEO Stefano Agostini, during the presentation of the new S.Pellegrino Flagship factory

An ambitious challenge, «but they can afford it» commented Santo Versace, in the audience at the new Fondazione Feltrinelli in Milan, where the presentation took place – that is to say, beautiful architecture calls for beautiful architecture.

Versace continued: «In this case, we don’t give value just to water or a town, but to all of Italy. Because S.Pellegrino represents the country around the world (a billion times, last year! This is the number of bottles sold) in a prestigious way and it conveys our history, our culture, our excellence, our lifestyle. We are and must increasingly be the industry of what’s beautiful. This is the direction of this project and it therefore deserves my praise and that of everyone».

Versace smiled as he spoke. Stefano Agostini, president and CEO at Gruppo Sanpellegrino (the happiest of all, we could say. And rightly so), Luca Molinari of the homonymous firm, who guided the board of experts who chose the best project, and then three members of the jury, Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times, Giulio Cappellini, architect and art director at Cappellini, Laudomia Pucci of Emilio Pucci were also smiling – architecture, design and fashion share a similar language, at least in Italy. Local administrators were also oozing joy, especially the mayor of San Pellegrino Terme - Vittorio Milesi.

Smiles show an arch turned upside down. And indeed a towering arch is the symbol of Big’s project and will be the leitmotiv in the new S.Pellegrino headquarters, or better in the old faded headquarters which will now completely change their appearance. Four starchitects for S.Pellegrino was the title we gave in September to the piece announcing the final stage involving as many prestigious architectural firms, among which was Italian Michele De Lucchi. Danish BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and Dutch MVRDV competed in the finals, until the former won. «Our choice was based on the capacity to represent three elements: concept, mission adherence, and shared values». Ingels won because it best expresses «purity, transparency, naturalness». And: «It includes large and comfortable spaces, which convey a sense of belonging».

Bjarke Ingels appeared on stage with a promise, «I’m happy because I have four years to learn Italian and I have seized a good excuse to visit this beautiful country frequently». He then spoke of brand identity, «S.Pellegrino is structurally connected to its territorial roots, to the soil, the sky, but in general to the Italian way of life». As mentioned, the new headquarters use arches as a key interaction element between factory, country and landscape.

The project by BIG, a firm founded in 2005 by Ingels himself with headquarters in Copenhagen and a branch in New York, will include the installation of a gigantic “geologic biopsy” in the middle of the campus. It will show the 30-year-long journey that the water must take from the clouds to the filtering soil, so as to acquire minerals and reach the purity that makes S.Pellegrino so unique.

The new S.Pellegrino Flagship Factory aims to become a relationship model for a territory and its factories – that is to say to show how the most enlightened private funds have contributed over the decades in redesigning the territory, enhancing it. This is something that has a long and successful history in Italy, with examples such as Olivetti in Ivrea or Sogesta in Urbino. Cappellini: «We’ve always produced excellence. We now need to improve the way we communicate it. This is why I’m so passionate about this project». Agostini is beaming, with the pride of someone who’s working for a brand but also feels a connection with his country: «I’m happy because we’ll promote Italy all over the world». More and more.



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