Alenia Aermacchi Plant: A steel complex for the Boeing B787 programme

Alenia Aeromachi’s industrial plant for the production of Boeing B787, designed by the Rome-based architecture firm Studio Amati, employs structural sections and facade cladding by ArcelorMittal. It took just 14 months to build the largest industrial architectural project of recent years in southern Italy.

Detailed information

The factory produces two sections of the fuselage for the world’s first carbon fibre civilian aircraft – the Boeing B787 Dreamliner. The aeroplane is manufactured along with factory-built components from around the world before being assembled by Boeing in the USA. The production of the first commercial aircraft using this and other new technologies signifies a carbon saving of 20% over current airliners.

Architectural design

The building provides a solution that is both functional and exceptional at the same time, incorporating architectural quality into an industrial establishment.

The rectangular-shaped plant is divided into functional areas for each of the various phases of the manufacturing process, offering dynamic wall joints along the main facade – which stretches 400 metres – thanks to edges and creases worked into the coating. Intentional fissures give an impression of the building’s interior lighting, inclined surfaces, the shape of the underlying structure and the foundation on which the installations are set.

Alenia production plant: Made of steel

The building does not just provide a response in terms of functionality, but also in terms of its architectural quality, rarely seen in an industrial plant. Everything has been calibrated and designed to blend in with the environmental setting, fully respecting the landscape.

Steel plays a fundamental role in the new Alenia hangar. The material not only forms a founding element of the structure’s functionality, where the need to cover large spans is resolved by imposing steel trusses, but it also contributes to the symbolic aspect of the site with the external metal covering.

The Alenia hangar’s multiple parallel beam roof structure is the most simple, functional, and consistent solution for these types of establishment, despite containing exceptional structural elements such as metre-high HEB hot rolled beams, a speciality of the range of ArcelorMittal structural steel profiles.

The specific qualities of steel which have given it such great success in large-spanning structures are its high mechanical strength in relation to its weight; reduced mass of load-bearing elements in comparison to traditional construction techniques, creating a flexibility in the use of internal spaces which can be easily adapted to new use demands given the increased simplicity of modifying or extending the structure.

The use of metal framework also allows for different types of covering or coating systems, from transparent or translucent, to opaque or screened. At Grottaglie, the choice was to use pre-painted sandwich panels for the facade and a metal brise soleil system for external cladding (Mascaret® and ST® Lumiere from ArcelorMittal Construction), creating a more vibrant appearance on a facade characterised by straight lines, as well as giving a 'hi-tech' look to the building.

The steel-structured Alenia plant weighs in at 15 000 tonnes (twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower), creating a symbol of excellence for Taranto and brining a "steel" image to the iron and steel tradition of the region.

Project information

  • Grottaglie Taranto
  • Italy
  • Architect:
    Studio Amati s.r.l.
  • 2006
  • Client:
    Alenia Aeronautica spa
  • Engineering Firm:
    SEICO - IN.PR.A. Sergio Tremi Proietti, Gabriele Di Chiara
  • Contractor:
    Steel structure and claddings: Cometal spa, leader of a consortium with Cordioli spa, MBM spa, Bit spa, Ortolan spa
    Technical installations: Ariatta Ingegneria
  • Photographer:
    ©Fondazione Promozione Acciaio