Engineering Company
New Unicef-IRC Headquarters  - Florence

New Unicef-IRC Headquarters - Florence

This project concerns the requalification of the historic east wing of Ospedale degli Innocenti, which is going to become the new headquarters of Unicef.  The whole complex, which also has an internal courtyard, is set out on three floors, overlooking Via dei Fibbiai and the internal courtyard.  The overall surfaces are as follows:

  • ground floor 300 sq m approx.
  • first floor 850 sq m approx.
  • second floor 850 sq m approx.

The integrated design project includes, during the renovation stages, intervention on structural architectural features as well as on installations.  The intention in particular is to create new meeting spaces, knocking down some sections of non-load-bearing wall and to create, compliant with the relevant standards, constraints and work and detachment from surrounding buildings, a new emergency stairway to also connect to the second floor, which will be integrated into the internal courtyard.  As well as serving for emergencies, this stairway may also serve to access the garden during breaks, making it another space for meeting and talking.  There is also the intention to install a panoramic lift with a covered bottom and glass cabin, driven by an oil-hydraulic piston system, based on the ground floor to safeguard the perception of the state of sites and to make the most of natural lighting for energy saving purposes.
Opengineering has designed the technological installations, taking special care for energy savings, architectural integration and compliance with the historical and architectural features of Ospedale degli Innocenti.
The proposed installations aim to significantly reduce energy consumption.  The aim has been to add to this energy saving with performance and comfortable surroundings, which can be summed up as follows:

  • implementation of a control and management system for lighting
  • use of light fittings that integrate perfectly with the architectural setting
  • use of high-efficiency, durable light sources such as LEDs and T8 long life fluorescents (75,000 hours of operation)
  • use of a highly reliable electrical network, complete with UPS to guarantee maximum service continuity
  • implementation of a high-performance, structured wiring system (category 6°)
  • use of alternative energy sources to limit energy consumption in the generation and recovery of heat transfer fluids
  • use of conditioning systems in accordance with their insertion into the monumental context of the building

From the viewpoint of architectural integration, the systems solution chosen uses technological types of ducting and wiring that can be inspected, in line with the new vision of offices as meeting areas.  This means that even the original flooring will be covered with a floating floor, for fast, variable installation of systems, which in turn means maximum flexibility for office space.  Lastly, to guarantee energy savings, the windows will be replaced, in line with the current standards and regulations as well as with existing limits, using new windows, built to the same design as the originals, but with new materials and designed for thermal break, with double glazing to also guarantee sound insulation.
The machinery to serve the heating, cooling, drinking water, and hot water for sanitary use will be housed in a newly built area under the paving of the current garden and perfectly integrated in the form of urban décor.  Installation and maintenance will therefore be easier and costs will be reduced.  This system also means that large, heavy machinery will not be weighing down on the load-bearing structures of the building being renovated and at the same time, this solution is optimum in terms of ventilation to installations.  Offices therefore will only receive distributed utilities, and that means a drastic cutting of the risk of emergency situations caused by system problems, which increases safety for those using these areas.
From the point of view of lighting, there are solutions to integrate artificial and natural lighting.  Given the specific nature of the building, the chosen light fittings prioritised the use of direct/indirect light.  These fittings mean it is possible to light up the fine ceilings (above all on the second floor) while avoiding the so-called “cave effect”, while allowing the reflected light they generate to create a general, diffused lighting in the rooms.
Work environments, such as offices, meeting rooms, etc. will have table and suspended ceiling lights, which reduces the invasive nature of wiring and guarantees control of the system almost totally from outside, plus quick and easy maintenance and flexible distribution of spaces over time.  LED sources are to be used for accent lighting, so as to reduce maintenance costs and notably cut down on energy use.  Thanks to the partly glazed perimeter walls of the building, there will be a notable amount of natural lighting during the day for the directly outward facing areas.  In these rooms, it was decided to install a lighting control system that through the use of presence sensors, light sensors and fittings with DALI electronic ballast, can integrate the amount of natural daytime light with artificial lighting that will still guarantee an average light level on work surfaces of 500 lux, calculated in compliance with current standards.  If on one hand, this type of solution makes it possible to create better visual comfort conditions, on the other, it achieves notable savings in energy terms.  The light sensors are able to detect the amount of light incoming from outside, controlling and dimming the artificial light needed to reach the levels prescribed in standards.  This way lamps only provide the light flow needed to achieve these values.  The use of constantly dimmed fluorescent lamps makes it possible to stabilise and lengthen the average lifetime of light sources, cutting maintenance costs further.
As far as concerns electrical distribution to safeguard the artistic features of the work, solutions have been preferred that will use sunken ducting and distribution below floors and/or in false ceilings, where these are fitted.  Floating flooring, with integrated radiant panels, used both to heat and cool, has made it possible to lay out all systems (plumbing, wiring, and special systems) below the floor, meaning a minimum amount of chased or elevated installation.
As far as concerns the heating and conditioning systems, this will use a heat pump, combined with a primary air system and radiant terminals integrated into the floating floor.  The system uses an active thermodynamic heat recovery unit with heat pump technology to control the exchange with ambient air (primary air) and an air-air heat pump to supply the various under floor heating circuits.


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New Unicef-IRC Headquarters - Florence


Istituto degli Innocenti di Firenze

Value of the work

2.150.000,00 €



Architectural Project

Arch. Filippo Martines

Structure Project

Ing. Marco Peroni

Systems Project

Opengineering S.r.l.


Preliminary, Definitive, Executive Design and Supervision of works for Thermalfluid, Electrical and Special Systems

Task assigned by

Istituto degli Innocenti di Firenze

Systems Amount

1.270.000,00 €