Catania Shopping Centre

Functional architecture for biggest shopping mall in Sicily

June 2011 saw the opening of Sicily’s biggest shopping mall in the region of ‘Centro Sicilia’. The building development on one level is a true example of functional architecture design according to modern principles of smart-building and the green economy.

The uniqueness of this project lies in the use of a new infra-red treatment on polycarbonate sheets with different thicknesses, geometry, and colour. The sheets produced using the IR co-extrusion technology on the outside surface of the sheets allows for the passage of visible radiation and shields the infra-red rays responsible for heat. With the malls location in Sicily, where temperatures are high throughout the year, skylights of such dimensions would normally create a lot of heat inside the building, lending to high costs in air conditioning. With these newly developed polycarbonate sheets architects have been able to gain a double benefit; achieving efficiency with natural lighting without the usual ‘greenhouse’ effect created with skylights and also reducing costs for artificial lighting and cooling. The savings for air conditioning have been calculated to be around 30%.

It is difficult to measure the feeling that one gets when walking under skylights – where one would normally expect an uncomfortable change in temperature when going from a shady area to one illuminated by the sum. In the case of Sicily’s newest shopping mall the feeling of comfort is very important as shoppers will be able to appreciate the sun’s natural light without overheating.