Project – facility complex JGL

Pharma Valley, the production facility complex of the pharmaceutical company JGL opened recently. The pulsating form of the complex marked the entrance into the city of Rijeka and successfully integrated into the existing matrix.

The colouristic interior scenario with plenty of lighting has been beautifully complemented with the prostoria products.
We bring you the details about the project and its development by the architectural team Igor Rožić and Davor Katušić, as follows.

About the shape of the building, the inspiration, and its harmonization with the environment...

The location along the highway was chosen by the Investor as a logical extension of the existing production facility in Svilno. The position of the building right next to a very busy highway section determined the architectural concept of the future facility to a great extent. The easiest way of explaining it would be through the following 5 parameters which we used in our design in relation to the environment and the content of the facility.

Repetitive form is placed in relation with the dominant perception of the building from close proximity, looking from the highway at an average speed of 90 km/h.

The complex is defined by a 200 metres long and 17 metres high structure that marks the entrance into the city like a spatial sign. This is an architectural research of the possibility of constructing a modern industrial building. At the same time, it also represents homage to Rijeka's industrial heritage.

Dynamic 3-dimensional membrane of the building integrates the key contents of Pharma Valley "under a single roof ": Research and Development; Laboratories and Production in accordance with the highest GMP standards; modern robotised storage facility and offices.

Texture of the facade accentuated by horizontal lines is placed in relation to the linear dynamics of the highway.

Tailored to people - The glass-covered access zones in the south and north with landscaped gardens welcome visitors and represent an "oasis" tailored to people within the complex tailored to the industry.

About the inspiration during the interior design...

Even though the building may seem monofunctional at first glance, as it was built using a repetitive element, it represents a complex with different spatial and functional requirements.
Each section in the interior is shaped to provide the best possible working space for the employees. This has been accomplished with generous use of glass surfaces which bring natural light and ventilation to all areas – storage, production and offices.
Despite of the specific pharmaceutical production standards in so-called "clean rooms", these areas are equipped with large glass surfaces which substantially reduce the sense of closed space.
Inserting a green atrium in the office area of the complex enabled the creation of a completely unusual working environment with rich lighting and carefully dosed balance of intimacy required for the individual work and the open space which emphasises an important element of the JGL corporate culture – togetherness.
The bright interiors are enriched with elements that are normally reserved for spaces that tend to create the feeling of pleasure, such as residential areas, and can rarely be found in the office interiors - curtains with rich saturated colours and soft texture, wood furniture and upholstered furniture, individualized colouring of office furniture. In this way, every individual has the possibility of configuring its own space. As these elements are combined with external glass walls, this individualism is reflected on the facade image thus changing it from day to day.
Special attention is shown to the night image of the complex. Vibrant colours of the sun protection elements, which in day light are subdued, at night come alive illuminated from the inside. Large aluminium membrane at night reveals details that are hidden during the day – big perforated screen along the highway shows activities inside the building creating the impression that the building gives back the extra light at night to the environment, which has been accumulated during the day.

About changes that occurred in the process from the idea to the final realisation...

Work on the project started in 2011, right after the indications that the existing JGL production facility in Svilno could expand to a location along the highway, in the area of a former concrete elements factory. Together with the first sketches of the organisation of development of this new zone and the process of acquisition of space, with the active support of the City of Rijeka, the new urban parameters for the development of this specific industry were aligned.
As the cycle required for the process of developing new products and access to new markets in fast-growing pharmaceutical industry constantly decreases, we anticipated that there would undoubtedly be modifications caused by changes in technology and development plans during a four year period planned for the JGL Pharma Valley project realisation.
That is why the concept that supports changes "as we go" has been applied, without affecting the general design.
An example of the efficiency of the applied concept is the fact that the construction started based on the design that did not include office space. Ultimately, that part of the design was completely changed, the building was modified both in shape and function, and the effect on the initial concept was positive.
Apart from the changes that occurred during the construction, the project is specific also because it enables essential changes in the future, again without the negative effect on the overall design. The built structure allows, e.g., simple future doubling of the current production areas with the simultaneous connection through an automated "shuttle" tunnel with the future construction phases within the zone.
Although this principle of "flexible" design has set before us unexpected challenges, the benefits for the company's development are obvious.

About the specific challenges of the pharmaceutical industry...

The pharmaceutical industry projects are extremely complex in design due to their particular technological requirements.
Our specific position in this project comes from the fact that we have been cooperating with the company JGL for such a long time that we grew together on our joint projects, each in its own field of work. Such long-term cooperation enabled us deeper insight into the processes and plans, which is a great advantage for efficient work. At the same time, the trust that we had built gave us a greater degree of freedom on JGL Pharma Valley project. The precondition for a meaningful use of that freedom in designing is a deep knowledge of all processes, media, technology and functions that have to be successfully incorporated into the project.

About the importance of this architectural solution for the local and public community, as well as for us...

We hope that this project will contribute to the process of re-creating the image of Rijeka as a city once known for its strong and innovative industries.

Apart from the obvious economic benefits for the local community, the project is also an example that the former vitality of Rijeka's entrepreneurship is not completely vanished, and that in a relatively short period of time a new industry based on knowledge and innovation rather than on exploitation of natural resources and cheep labour can be created.

This is also a good example for the architectural profession that research can be applied on projects that have so far been on the margins of architectural interest. Especially if the investor, such as in the example of JGL, understands its responsibility towards the local community as responsibility towards the environment in which it operates and builds.

Personally, we hope that the idea of growth that can be identified through a series of five identical "vertebrae" of the building will prove in time to be a successful spatial model for the development and life of JGL company.

JGL Pharma Valley Project architectural team:
Igor Rožić and Davor Katušić,
with associates

Photography: Sandro Rubinić

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