Caïman® in the Alba Power co-generation power station project inspired by surrounding nature

An exhaustive aesthetic study preceded the construction of the new Alba co-generation power station, commissioned by Alba Power S.p.A., a company dedicated to producing and supplying district heating to the city of Alba. ArcelorMittal’s Caïman® siding panels were chosen for the envelope, which took into account the architects' desire to integrate the project with the surrounding green and hilly territory.

Detailed information

The power plant

The plant comprises a gas turbine able to produce 50 MW of electrical power and with technical characteristics that enable emissions to be reduced significantly compared to a traditional structure. The power station also contains four hot-water storage tanks used to manage the variability of the thermal load from the district heating system.

The power station, located in the vicinity of the historic city centre, and designed to meet the new energy requirements of the territory of Alba and its industries, was the subject of a special environmental integration study intended to conceal the industrial structure consisting of a prefabricated reinforced-concrete structure and, as already indicated, four containment tanks.

The project was inspired by the surrounding hilly territory: the gentleness of the hills is reflected in the linear and curved design of the canopies that cover the industrial plant like a double membrane. The surrounding area, with the Tanaro River and its banks - another strong, characteristic element of the area - influenced the choice of colours: the green of the surrounding vegetation for the lower sections and the light blue of the sky for the top of the structure.

Metal cladding system

The choice of envelope took into account the architects' desire to make the new curtain light and almost impalpable. For this reason, the choice was narrowed down to various types of claddings supported by lattice girders, notably the 'shingle' canopies that are the major peculiarity of the project, used for the lower sections of the complex. These elements are made from galvanised steel with organic coating of about 100 x 80 cm (Caïman© from ArcelorMittal Construction) fitted and fixed on steel frames of about 100 m2 of varying shapes for a total of twelve canopies (six on each side). The choice to use blind panelling was derived from the need to mask the perimeter sections, particularly to blend the structure into the environment.

The steel covering of the complex is complemented by micro perforated-aluminium sheet canopies, erected on site and post painted, which cover the upper sections of the complex, and by a steel rectangular-mesh grid structure enveloping the four district-heating tanks so as to hide them from view.

Eventually, the structure will also be fitted with photovoltaic panels fitted to the top of the structure in order to increase energy production.

The use of steel

Using a special steel material such as that of the shingle cladding has made it possible to create a building of great aesthetic impact that plays on the light reflected by the elements. The shapes of the building and the colours used were studied so as to integrate the project seamlessly into the environment, almost as if melting into the environment with the progression of day and night.


Client: Albapower S.p.A.
General coordination and project management: Edoardo Astegiano (architect), Paolo Brosio (architect)
Architectural execution:  Edoardo Astegiano (architect),  Renzo Conti (architect),  Federico Morgando (architect) (Studio A.S. Architetti Associati), Daniela Casalino (architect), Paolo Brosio (architect)
Structural engineering:  Piergiuseppe Volante (engineer), Francesco Ravizza (engineer) (Progest S.r.l.)
Electrical and special engineering: Sergio Berno (engineer) (E.L. Engineering Services S.r.l.)
Metalwork and cladding: Marzero S.a.s. Costruzioni in ferro
Construction firm: Zoppoli & Pulcher S.p.A.
Steel: ArcelorMittal

Project information

  • Alba
  • Italy
  • Architect:
    Studio AS Associated Architects: E. Astegiano, R. Conti, F. Morgando, Arch. Casalino e Arch. Brosio
  • 2008
  • Client:
    Alba Power S.p.A.
  • Engineering Firm:
    Progest S.r.l.
  • Contractors:
    Metalwork and cladding: Marzero S.a.s. Costruzioni in ferro, Construction firm: Zoppoli & Pulcher S.p.A.
  • Photographers:
    ©Laura Cantarella, ©Studio AS, ©Andrea Raffin