Magnet Residential Center, Albania
HeidelbergCement’s innovative products have been chosen for the construction of Magnet, a large residential center in the City of Tirana, Albania, designed by acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, who has designed such world-renowned projects as the World Trade Center Master Plan in New York, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the Fiera Milano exhibition center in Milan.
For the unique Magnet complex, composed of two towers and smaller buildings surrounded by several park areas and common spaces, Daniel Libeskind chose Italcementi's innovative i.active COAT, a photocatalytic cement offering de-polluting and self-cleaning performance thanks to the active principle TX Active, for the external façades. Moreover, the pavements and walkways were created using i.idro DRAIN, the innovative concrete that offers unbeaten draining capacity and is one of the most environmentally sustainable products on the market today.
The Magnet Residential Center is located near the city center of Tirana, on an area of more than 40,000 m2. The building consists of two towers located in the center of the complex surrounded by buildings with no more than 5/6 floors. At street-level, there is office space, a pedestrian plaza, and a series of urban public spaces. Each of the 115 units have south-exposed living areas, where the window and door openings have been designed in concert with the balcony forms to maximise passive solar shading in the summer, while allowing the lower winter sun inside. Further, the terraced planted roof areas will absorb heat and storm water while providing green living areas for residents.
The first edifice, “Eagle in Flight”, has already been finished. It is 13 stories high with a design inspired by an Eagle flying towards the freedom of the West. It is a model that gives light to a brighter future for Albania. The tower is crescent-shaped in plan, and characterised by a curved façade and characteristic balcony forms.
Works for the second building, called “Orion”, have been also finished. HeidelbergCement’s researchers created some coloured versions of i.active COAT, since the architect wanted to distinguish each structure with its own colour.
The extraordinary result and the great partnership with STUDIO Libeskind and KONTAKT, the Albanian company in charge of the construction works, has also given rise to an additional important result: the same products have been used to build ANA, another residential complex in Tirana.
Both HeidelbergCement subsidiaries ‑ Italcementi (Italy) and Devnya Cement (Bulgaria) ‑ were material suppliers for Magnet and ANA. The solution adopted is ideal – as i.active COAT ensures self-cleaning and de-polluting properties, thus guaranteeing a unique surface finishing and outstanding aesthetic quality. Moreover, it is also an excellent choice from the economic point of view: the complex shape of the building made the use of precast elements for the façade cladding very difficult and expensive, so that the use of i.active COAT applied on a precast substrate (AQUAPANEL by Knauf) proved an innovative and efficient solution. This also made it possible to create different surface finishes as designed by architect Libeskind, in order to generate contrast between the façade and the balconies.
The use of photocatalytic cementitious materials – like those used in the Magnet project - helps improve the air quality in urban centers thanks to their de-polluting effect. In addition, they reduce the need of maintenance on buildings thanks to the "anti-staining" effect, which prevent surfaces becoming dirty. Further, these coatings can be important in reducing the ‘heat island effect’ – making for cool surfaces and lower temperatures even during the hottest periods of the year. As a final result, the temperature of the building is lower and indoor conditions more comfortable.
The concrete used for the external pavements, pedestrian paths, and surrounding gardens is i.idro DRAIN – an innovative ready-to-use pervious concrete for the construction of pavements. i.irdro DRAIN is characterised by an extremely high draining capacity which improves pavement safety: less water streaming, less aquaplaning, and less ice during the winter. It also increases the albedo effect significantly ‑ the heat perceived when people walk over it. Moreover, it contributes to the projects LEED points for the LEED certification. For this special project, a dedicated mix was developed and applied together by KONTAKT, Italcementi and Devnya Cement, as well as Eurotech.