in ferrara, a city in northern italy, mario cucinella architects designs an environmentally sustainable office building entitled ARPAE, the new headquarters for the regional agency for prevention, environment and energy. covering an area of 5,000 square meters, the timber project won an international design competition for a new building complex capable of housing offices and laboratories, and designed to meet the highest architectural and environmental standards. mario cucinella comments: ‘the building in ferrara explores the relationship between form and performance, that makes it the first hybrid public building in italy.’

arpae mario cucinella
all images by moreno maggi



designed by mario cucinella architects, the project is defined by its roofing system, which is realized as a series of 112 chimneys. the chimneys offer a twofold function — controlling light distribution, and enhancing natural ventilation. the chimney system operates differently in summer that in winter. during the summer, the chimney effect passively moves air upward through the space, while in the winter, they serve as greenhouse-type spaces that both accumulating solar heat and then pump it back through the interior.

arpae mario cucinella



the project — beginning with its form — was designed by mario cucinella architects to minimize the use of active technical systems. most of the energy required for their operation comes from renewable sources. these sources include groundwater-based units, which can simultaneously produce hot and chilled water during any time of the year, as well as a photovoltaic system, which generates electricity while eliminating emissions into the atmosphere. the building is entirely made of wood with an on-site dry construction system, which means that reducing water consumption starts in the construction site. moreover, the dry assembly system facilitates maintenance and the replacement of elements throughout the building’s lifespan.

arpae mario cucinella

arpae mario cucinella

arpae mario cucinella arpae mario cucinella arpae mario cucinella arpae mario cucinella

arpae mario cucinella

arpae mario cucinella arpae mario cucinella

arpae mario cucinella



project info:


project title: ARPAE regional agency for environment and energy

architecture: mario cucinella architects

location: ferrara, italy

client: ARPAE ferrara

management: giulia floriani, eugenio roncacci

team: mario cucinella, michele olivieri, giulio desiderio, chiara tomassi, francesco barone, caterina maciocco, antonella maggiore, giulio pisciotti, luca stramigioli, alessio rocco, debora venturi

structural engineering: tecnopolis

wooden structures: SWS engineering

bioclimatic analysis: TIFS ingegneria

construction: montelaghi

photography: moreno maggi