Sophisticated Camouflage

d+a|Issue 116

Sophisticated Camouflage
Hidden in plain sight by a multifaceted screen of triangular panels, this bioenergy plant in Ravenna Reinterprets the unconventional Razzle Dazzle military camouflage technique.
Pearlie Tan

For a hulking bioenergy plant that supplies electricity to 84,000 households, the Powerbarn by Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti treads lightly in terms of visual and environmental impact.

Surrounded by agricultural fields near the city of Russi in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, the eye is drawn to the geometric wooden hull and sculpted metal tower that dominate the landscape.

The furnace building and chimney of the Powerbarn are enveloped in a compelling skin of large triangular shapes woven in a multifaceted pattern, a mutable disguise that offers an-ever changing perception of the building in different conditions.

The dissimulation of this massive structure is inspired by the Razzle Dazzle technique, which was used to camouflage warships during World War I.

“This is not about hiding, but about proposing a different reality to the observer, a more complex and deceptive one that, paradoxically, tends to attract his attention, making him wonder at what he sees,” says architect Giovanni Vaccarini.

“The ambition was to think that an industrial building could be beautiful and a landmark for the area.

“The result was achieved by connecting the building with the surrounding area and by sharing the project’s values.”


Set on the 470,000m² industrial site of the former Eridania sugar factory, the furnace building and smoke line of the biomass plant extends 110m long and 40m high, while the chimney reaches 52m in height.


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Issue 116