The credit for new production and technology investment of the JGL d.d. company belongs to the architects Igor Rožić (studio Rožić arhitekti d.o.o. Rijeka) and Davor Katušić (Katušić Kocbek arhitekti d.o.o. Zagreb). The established team of architects and their close associates started to work on the project in 2012. That is when the new urban parameters for the development of this specific industry were aligned 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. Construction began a year later, but the Pharma Valley project is actually the result of many years of cooperation between its authors and JGL.
“We have been cooperating with JGL for a long time. We grew together on our joint projects, each of us in our own field of work. Long-term co-operation enabled us deeper insight into processes and plans, which is a great advantage for efficient work. At the same time, the trust that we had built in that way gave us a greater degree of freedom on JGL’s Pharma Valley project. The precondition for a meaningful use of that freedom in designing is the deep knowledge of all processes, media, technology and functions that are to be successfully incorporated into the project,” said Igor Rožić who considers projects belonging to the pharmaceutical industry particularly complex, due to exceptional technological requirements.
The position of JGL’s Pharma Valley, right next to a very busy highway section, determined the architectural concept of the building to a great extent. The location was chosen as a logical extension of the existing production facility in Svilno, and the shape of the building is defined by a repetitive form 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. Likewise, 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 exploration of the possibility of building a modern industrial building. At the same time, the authors point out that the project serves as a kind of homage to Rijeka’s industrial heritage.
“The dynamic three-dimensional membrane of the building integrates the key contents of Pharma Valley under a single roof – the Department of Research and Development, laboratories and production in accordance with the highest GMP standards, as well as modern, robotised storage facility and offices. Although the building may look monofunctional at first glance, since it was built using a repetitive element, it is actually a complex with different spatial and functional requirements. Furthermore, the texture of the façade accentuated by horizontal lines was also placed in relation to the linear dynamics of the highway, and 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,” said Davor Katušić. He added that he hoped this project would contribute to the process of re-creating the image of Rijeka as a city known for its strong and innovative industries.
Besides 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 gone, and that a new industry based on knowledge and innovation can be created in a relatively short period of time. The authors agree that this project is a good example for the architectural profession that exploration is possible on projects that have so far been on the margins of architectural interest. This is especially the case if the investor, such as in the example of JGL, understands his responsibility towards the local community as responsibility towards the space 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 to be a successful spatial model for JGL’s development and life in time. The built structure allows, for example, simple future doubling of the current areas for production, with the simultaneous connection through an automated shuttle tunnel with the next stages of construction within the zone. This principle of ‘elastic’ design has set before us unexpected challenges, and advantages for development of the company are obvious,” said Rožić and Katušić, stating that they are especially pleased with the relatively short time in which they went from idea to realisation of JGL Pharma Valley.
“In addition, realisation very often does not occur, or architects wish that it had not occurred, so the level of frustration is very high on average. This is not the case now. We are very happy!”