Fontanot staircase featured in the new WBSC headquarters in Switzerland, designed by the architect Enrico Muscioni
The long-established staircase manufacturer was involved in the project for the new Swiss headquarters of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), designing an impressive staircase that runs through the entire building
Past and present come together in a single building, giving it a spark of sporting passion that will project it into the future. The Italian company Fontanot, a world-renowned staircase manufacturer, is one of the main contributors to the project for the new headquarters of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), which opened last July in Pully, Switzerland.
The new WBSC headquarters, known as “Home Plate”, are housed in a historic building in the municipality of Pully, not far from Lausanne. The furnishing elements, interior design and lighting concept were all devised by the architect Enrico Muscioni, who entrusted a number of companies to supply the custom-made products required for this project. Several companies were involved in the project, in addition to Fontanot, such as Dada, Molteni&C, Porcelanosa, Unifor and Vitra.
The project stems from the desire to balance out a series of contrasts: not only the contrast between the new modern interiors and the historic features of the building, but also a contrast typical of the baseball world, perpetually caught between a fascinating history and future challenges. With countless physical references to the baseball world, such as the Home Plate, the glove, the ball or the red stitching, the entire structure of the building seems to effortlessly tell the story of this sport, taking visitors on an immersive experiential journey.
The soul of the project is Fontanot’s sculptural staircase, with its sinuous shapes inspired by the batter’s movements as he strikes the ball, freezing it in time and making it everlasting. The staircase not only connects the four floors of the building, directing the flow of movement, but also clearly demonstrates the intent of WBSC, which is more determined than ever to become a leading player in the field of baseball in the future. Built with a steel supporting structure entirely clad in KRION, it towers over the entire building with its imposing, distinctive look.
The straight sections of the building’s staircases were made with suitably reinforced commercial profiles, while custom-made helicoidal box profiles were used for the curved parts. The external and internal structures of the staircase are joined together by metal frames, and are entirely clad in fine Italian Walnut wood, which is instantly eye-catching.
Upon entering from the front door and going up the two marble steps opposite the reception area, visitors will find themselves on the world’s largest Home Plate, as if they were stepping onto an actual baseball diamond. On the first floor there is a common area and the offices of the President, the Secretary General and the Executive Director, while the upper floors are reserved for offices. The Federation’s archives, instead, have been placed in the basement.
For the new WBSC headquarters, the aim was to bring a rational, minimalist space to life that could embody the most authentic spirit of baseball, as well as offering a unique sensory experience to visitors. Sometimes all it takes is a staircase to connect the past to the future.
Project Concept: HISTORY and FUTURE
The project for the new WBSC headquarters in Lausanne is the result of a formal, sensorial challenge, which has as its main goal the ability to combine in a single architectural work the HISTORY of this sport and its FUTURE-oriented vision.
The HISTORY of Baseball and Softball itself, which dates back to the early 1800s, is full of epic moments. Painstaking analysis and research were conducted into these and other elements typical of these sport disciplines, such as the bat, the glove, the diamond, the ball, the red stitching and the Home Plate. The role of the baseball player is always at the heart of these elements.
The rules of the game consist of “moments and episodes” where the individual, which is part of a team, is capable of heroic feats. Not surprisingly, this sport has been extensively featured in films that have made a huge, lasting impact on billions of cinemagoers.
The FUTURE is shaped by the daily work of the WBSC. A “team” of passionate professionals who are constantly committed to promoting this sport, with its competitive, educational and evolutionary spirit. A tireless work ethic that projects Baseball and Softball more and more into the future, demonstrating how they can be adapted to flexible contemporary life, which also translates into potential reinterpretations of this sport.
The new headquarters will be located in a historic building on Avenue General Guisan, overlooking Lake Geneva, in Lausanne. HISTORY.
A contemporary approach to interior design will be adopted for this project, which will involve the use of contrasting architectural styles while respecting the historical features of the building, thus formally representing the FUTURE.
The project is intended to address functional requirements by placing these conceptual references in every corner of the building, reflected in the interior layout in order to offer a sensory experience related to the Baseball and Softball world, conceived as an archaic place and a museum exhibition.
The new WBSC headquarters: Homeplate.
This minimalist, contemporary interior design project was conceived with the aim of preserving the outer shell of this HISTORICAL villa, without altering the overall look of the building itself. Its spaces are redesigned by creating the illusion of a transformation thanks to the use of the elements typical of this sport. The fact that they have been positioned in strategic areas inside the building contributes to defining spaces both functionally and strategically.
Home Plate, the Diamond, the bat, the ball and the red stitching are housed in the existing building, generating a formal contrast where History and Future come together. Spaces are shaped by “episodes” which, in turn, mark time, uncompromisingly defining the whole floor plan of the building and generating clear flows of movement within it.
The interior is designed to create a beautiful, calm and peaceful environment with a new dimension that contributes to a tangible perception of Baseball and Softball.
The entrance to the main hall stands out, in particular, for the large home plate sign placed on the floor. Two steps, conceived to be like a home plate, point the way to the reception desk, which was intended to have the same plan as the Diamond, with a simple, tactile appeal.
There is a constant interaction between the two top parts of these inflexible, contrasting shapes, with one resembling the shape of the other as in an actual field. A calm, peaceful, almost monastic space, devoid of decorations, where one can breathe in the atmosphere of Baseball and Softball.
A diagonal, load-bearing partition wall is to be demolished, making this area more spacious just like a field, allowing the whole depth of the building to be perceived.
This perception was also achieved diagonally, where the demolition of non-load-bearing walls, replaced with both fixed and movable glass walls, contributed to provide a deeper perspective effect across the width of the building through the offices, purposefully located around the perimeter of the building.
The fact that there are no superfluous elements, but rather simple shapes outlined by the new spaces and contemporary sculptural elements, has made it possible to create a well-lit, welcoming space that enhances the authentic look of the imposing historical walls, vertically accentuated with lighting fixtures installed on the floor and with leather, which is kept authentic and rough in contrast to the soft touch finish of the new functional partitions. White marble flooring materials were chosen for the common areas, which, along with the wooden panelling bearing the symbol of the Home Plate, give this space a timeless elegance.
The sculptural staircase is the beating heart of the project. A plastic, contemporary shape is intended to symbolically recreate the movement of the batter’s body as he hits the ball. Impressive, light and sinuous, it dominates this three-dimensional space since it is always visible from every room of the building, and therefore not only becomes a continuous vertical element that connects all four floors, but also reflects the Federation’s future-oriented vision. It is placed at the centre, opposite the circular, white marble and red glass cladded lift, which freezes in time the “ball” element with its red stitching.
The administration office is on the ground floor, as well as the lounge, located right next to the reception area and the large meeting room, which has the same number of seats as the number of board members.
The floor plan of the entrance hall on the first floor has an organic architectural design. The layout consists of a three-dimensional white plastic shape, which freezes the baseball glove in time and houses the Secretary General’s office. Next to it are the President’s office and the Director’s office, with an adjoining private meeting room. On the sides there are offices dedicated to the organisation of events.
On the second floor there will be more multi-station offices, vertically bordering the suspended meeting room.
All technological equipment, the archive, the novelty preparation and storage area, and the recreational area for the members of the Federation will be located in the basement. A large oblong room houses temporary offices where travelling members of the Federation and guests can work.
Visitors are certain to notice a common thread throughout the building, which is present and tangible just like the symbol of the home plate impressed on the wooden and marble flooring and on the large meeting room table. The theme of the “red” stitching is symbolically reflected in the red shielding mesh placed inside each glass partition wall and in the 8-millimetre vertical luminous openings, which highlight the contrast between the existing historical walls and the new walls in the areas where the walls are adjacent to one another.
The new entrance gate and fencing are the result of a design process aimed at ensuring visual continuity between interior and exterior. A contemporary design project is meant to address not only functional requirements for vehicle and pedestrian entrances, but also the need not to form an impenetrable boundary with the outside world. The digital frame, which creates a randomly placed home plate shape on the brass-plated panel, placed next to a bronze panel, gives the idea of a “border door” which, instead, expresses openness, brightness and timeless elegance.
The interior design, lighting concept and the design of each and every furnishing element and custom lighting fixture were all devised by Enrico Muscioni.