When you imagine beautiful architecture, you probably don’t think of electricity substations. Who would? But the new Terna station created by Pierattelli Architetture recently won an award for its innovative design, which was inspired by the natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside.

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terracotta substation near vineyards

The project is an electrical converter substation that pays homage to its scenic location. It was carefully designed to blend into the varying colors of the natural landscape around it. The project is for Terna, a utility company that manages the high and extra-high voltage national power grid in Italy. The Terna substation is part of an ongoing effort to modernize the electrical connection between Sardinia, Corsica and the Italian peninsula.

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terracotta modular tiles

Pierattelli Architetture was one of many firms that attempted the monumental task of designing an electrical substation that would honor and complement the natural landscape of Tuscany. Pierattelli Architetture’s project was chosen for its creative methods of designing an industrial building that wouldn’t become an eyesore for the idyllic region.

terracotta tiles

The building will be constructed with multiple modular facets made of terracotta, a local and traditional material, that will be fastened to steel cables. The modular design creates a textured exterior that shows the different dimensions and tones of the terracotta tiles. The gate and sections of the walls will be covered in rust-color paint, an echo of the local soil and rocks. The substation will also be surrounded with native plants, such as cypress, olive and pine trees. New trees will be planted around the fence and along the road leading up to the substation.

LED lights against a terracotta building

“Beauty should be a shared value and something we really strive to achieve, even in industrial architecture. This is especially so in a country like Italy, which is so rich in history and has such stunning landscapes,” Massimo Pierattelli, founder of Pierattelli Architetture, said.

floorplan of an electrical substation

The building is illuminated by recessed LED lights arranged on strips that project light upward. This creates a sense of drama that showcases the striking lines across the facade. There will be spotlights among groups of olive trees as well, lighting up and showing off the beauty of the landscape.

+ Pierattelli Architetture

Images via Pierattelli Architetture