manifattura tabacchi taps patricia urquiola & q-bic to convert florence’s cigar factory into residences – Designboom


manifattura tabacchi residences by 2023

In Florence, former cigar factory Manifattura Tabacchi is being transformed as spacious and bright apartments with industrial-inspired lofts by designer Patricia Urquiola and studio q-bic, slated for December 2023 completion. The residential project forms part of the redevelopment plan of Manifattura Tabacchi which will renovate the historical industrial lot into commercial plus executive spaces, cultural and training spaces, residential quarters, hospitality, and public green areas by 2026. The 16 buildings native to the lot along with the four new ones are protected by the Cultural Heritage Authority plus boast an area of 110, 000 square meters in total. Manifattura Tabacchi envisions a complex full of green lifestyle-seeking residents who will live in a neighborhood that doubles as a center for contemporary art, culture, and fashion, a complement to the historic center of Florence.

Before the residences, Manifattura Tabacchi’s Factory had already been revived by Florence-based architecture and design firm q-bic which was unveiled in April 2021. Inside the restored factory, buildings 4 and 5 house workspaces designed for businesses, professionals, and creatives who want to grow their businesses. Each building has three floors whose monumental volumes, double-height ceilings, concrete structures, exposed fixtures, and extensive glazing enjoy a blend between rationalist style and modern functionality. Open work areas underline the character of the new design which celebrates the commercial heritage of the cigar manufacturing plant by preserving its industrial appeal in the heart associated with Florence. Exiting the factory, the combined design styles of Urquiola and q-bic grace buildings 7 and 12 respectively, the spaces that will accommodate a total of 45 housing units. The residences aim to offer a new lifestyle concept to the historical Florence designed to house residents looking for spaces where contemporary design flows along the city’s celebrated structures.  

manifattura tabacchi taps patricia urquiola & q-bic to convert florence's cigar factory into residences

Luca Baldini & Marco Baldini of q-bic with Patricia Urquiola | image © designboom

manifattura tabacchi taps patricia urquiola & q-bic to convert florence's cigar factory into residences

Manifattura Tabacchi model | image © designboom

Manifattura Tabacchi, in its 10, 000 square meters, enhances design and art for a historical plus social renewal. In the huge spaces of Manifattura Tabacchi we can find workshops, or rather, the studios of architects, designers, artists who confront and stimulate each other. A school, Poli. Moda, young talents who give life to new ideas and projects, looking for different and more sustainable materials and creating new fashion designs.

Manifattura Tabacchi by Patricia Urquiola & q-bic

Michelangelo Giombini, Manifattura Tabacchi’s head associated with product development and CEO | image © designboom

Anilla by Patricia Urquiola

Feminine grace becomes the underlying force that drives Patricia Urquiola ’s style for Anilla, or Building 7, upon seeing the main façade which features a large bas-relief of an allegorical depiction of heroic working mothers. From the get-go, Urquiola’s presence reverberates as she fuses the existing floors and the uncovered structure of beams plus posts on the ground floor of the building, intended as commercial space. The distinctive finishes of the two main lobbies reflect the interior of the apartments upstairs, a prelude towards the design elements that mark Urquiola’s style.

Going up, there are 21 apartments waiting for their residents to live with Urquiola’s vision. The first floor includes units with a terrace, while the second and third flooring accommodate three duplexes featuring sunrooms that let the natural light from the expansive windows spill inside. Two top-floor penthouses, with large terraces and interior gardens, are located in the new structure that was added atop the roof of the existing building.

Manifattura Tabacchi by Patricia Urquiola & q-bic
lobby in Anilla | render simply by Tecma Solutions

Bricks lining the architectural elements continue the historic vernacular of the cigar manufacturer, resulting in a visual continuity that will meanders from the ground ascending to the roofs. These brick walls somewhat appear plus disappear at the same time through the screens that maintain their volumes and bring light to the penthouses. Large windows, terraces, and conservatories form a seamless transition between indoors and out, bringing into the space glimpses of the Piazza dell’Orologio and Piazza del Teatro that sit on the particular residents’ view.

Furnishings and finishes of Anilla

The particular furnishings and finishes inside the apartments in Anilla convey an interplay between playful tones and a calming atmosphere. Urquiola designs the kitchen within each unit as different from the other, making the custom, made-to-measure approach unique. Stepping into the living room, a new narrative occurs. Some have a curvilinear space while others have an open, fluid corner that sits close by the large windows.

Manifattura Tabacchi by Patricia Urquiola & q-bic

images courtesy of Manifattura Tabacchi (unless stated otherwise) | photos by Valentina Sommariva (unless stated otherwise)

Urquiola intends these spaces to become the heart of the home, a space to burrow oneself into, gather loved ones, or simply enjoy the moment with modern, vibrant aesthetics. The history of Manifattura Tabacchi is underlined through the silver, gold, and platinum finishes, which can be customized from a range of materials chosen by Urquiola. Small spheres of granite, marble, plus cement powder fleck the public spaces and interior from the apartments, and the parquet floors, wood paneling, and soft colors reflect the Manifattura palette, creating warm and welcoming interiors in contrast with the industrial exterior.  

Manifattura Tabacchi by Patricia Urquiola & q-bic
kitchen in Anilla | image © designboom

Manifattura Tabacchi by Patricia Urquiola & q-bic
living room in Anilla | | render by Tecma Options

Puro by q-bic

Studio q-bic takes over Building 12, the home to the production and packaging of finished tobacco products in the past. The oldest building in the complex is named Puro, taken after the Spanish word which means cigar. q-bic retains and renovates the commercial and clean look of Puro, starting with the open up and undivided interior and the use of original materials, coatings, and windows. On the first floor, 24 open space lofts enjoy high ceilings, exposed, wooden beams, plus covered outdoor spaces. From the size, the apartments then savor natural sunlight from the south-facing windows dominated from the massive metal trusses that support the hipped roof.

Like Urquiola, q-bic opts for open living room areas to maintain the double-height ceilings’ feature which creates quantities and a new level for a bedroom or pocket terraces cut into the roof line. The result is that living and sleeping areas are clearly distinct, with the mezzanines, for instance, overlooking the living room. The natural light flowing in through the large restored tripartite windows is amplified by the openings created on the roof: pocket terraces and skylights generously illuminate even the spaces under the roofing.

To heighten the distinction and dialogue between the original style and the new design, the new structures are made of steel, inspired by the industrial feel of the Manifattura. The metal balcony that gives access to the residences on the first floor evokes the suspended iron walkways that connected the particular machinery of the thermal power plant at height, as the glass partition walls plus raw iron cladding suggest the design of the guardhouses located throughout the buildings.

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