The deltaZERO building of Lugano is the result of ten years of work aimed at the construction of “zero differential” buildings (hence the name), i.e. buildings that produce the same amount of energy that they consume. Designed to guarantee the energy needed for the building occupants and to reduce harmful emissions to zero, it is the prototype of a new generation of buildings, the first “brick” of a new type of city. The idea came into existence several years ago amongst the team of architects and town planners of the De Angelis Associati studio. Thanks to the input coming from two cultures (the German and the Latin) and to great concern for all issues relating to the environment and to energy saving, the philosophy of deltaZERO began to take shape. Its principles, all applied, are simple but innovative: planning and designing activities incorporating different and new technologies to create self sufficient buildings in terms of energy, capable of exploiting natural resources and physical characteristics of the site and of the materials, whilst offering the utmost comfort and great versatility. Zero as an arithmetical unit thus becomes a symbol of equilibrium, of a neutrality obtained by summing competences to obtain a result that is greater than the single elements. Zero also means saving money by limiting energy and maintenance costs and granting energy supply independence and accurate management of environments.
The deltaZERO building of Lugano, model and manifesto of this innovative design and construction concept, is the outcome of the work of a team of designers who have imagined, designed and built it with the help of experts on geothermal science, solar energy, acoustic engineering, construction physics and domotics. The building has been built in a slightly elevated position with respect to Lugano-Paradiso. A casing of glass and steel, which are eternal materials with unique thermal and insulation properties, has been developed around a centre supporting structure made using special centrifuged reinforced concrete (housing the stairwell acting as earthquake-proofing and wind braking element). Three sides of the casing are transparent. The glass panels, size 3.20x2.70 m, are versatile elements with different features depending on their purpose: transparent elements are double-glazed and the gap contains Krypton gas; the glass elements of the bathrooms are screen-printed white and black to limit visibility from outside; the sliding glass doors feature special mechanical systems to guarantee resistance against the wind; solar elements contain metal panels with high absorption properties to store heat, which will be used to produce hot water and for heating. The building unfolds on the surrounding landscape to create a new relationship between urban and natural environments. The positive interaction between natural resources and technology, between man and the environment, has also enabled the building to fulfil its own energy needs, by means of a double integrated system: a network of geothermal probes, photovoltaic modules and solar panels, installed on the non-transparent side, provides electric energy, hot water, as well as water for heating and cooling.
The building exploits solar energy thanks to the installation of photovoltaic cells and panels with a high performance, both on the roof and on the inside of the windows on the southern side. The production of energy is also guaranteed when sunshine is poor. Furthermore, the energy produced and not used directly by the building is fed directly into the power grid. A reversible heat pump connected to the set of geothermal probes provides heat in winter and cold in summer; the electric energy needed for operation of the system is produced by the photovoltaic power station. The system has been designed so that the total yearly consumption for heating and cooling does not exceed the energy produced by the photovoltaic power station. The roof is insulated by means of special vacuum panels that have an insulating capacity that is ten times greater than that of conventional materials. The result obtained is double: energy needs are very small (only 20 kWh a year per square metre) and entirely fulfilled by solar energy. A low pressure and reduced consumption ventilation system diffuses air inside the building. Air is pre-heated in winter and pre-cooled in summer thanks to a ground-source collector. The level of oxygenation inside the building is equal to that outside the building to prevent the accumulation of carbon dioxide resulting from consumption of oxygen by occupants. Incoming air is filtered and ionised: its quality is equal to that of the air you breathe up in the mountains. The building is equipped with an advanced domotic system with a user-friendly, simplified interface. In accordance to the basic principles of the deltaZERO philosophy, the intended use of this building is mixed and may be modified at any time. Open-space offices (including an office-showroom of De Angelis Associati) are located alongside the large apartment with large Jacuzzi bath at the centre of the living room - as shown in the photos on these pages - two more conventional apartments and a loft that extends over an entire floor. The designers were interested in demonstrating that it is possible to build spaces that can serve as offices as well as apartments, of different shapes and sizes, which can be easily modified even years after they have been built. To guarantee this versatility, the electrical equipment, plumbing and wiring are installed under the floating floor: long slabs of Kerlite mounted on SS 30 panels made of reinforced calcium sulphate, manufactured by Teknofloor, resting on steel lugs with sound-absorbing membrane. In addition to its versatility, this type of floor has been chosen to fulfil the high standards of noise reduction. By choosing Kerlite, it was possible to use the 31.9x142.7 cm size hence combining architectural needs with aesthetic ones. The item chosen, Bluestone of the Avantgarde collection, is a stone that is almost black, with an extremely natural appeal, without veining or patterns that are too bold and a mild tone difference between pieces. Integrated control of energy, aeration, heating, lighting and domotics, along with the reduction of passive emissions and of noise- and electromagnetic- pollution guarantees results that have never been reached in terms of reduction of energy costs and improvement of the quality of living. This building with its low consumption of energy and high standard of comfort is the first step towards the deltaZERO city of tomorrow: a city without pollution and useless energy consumption, where people can live a healthy life in harmony with the seasons and with the surrounding environment.