VisLab Headquarters, Italy

Customer Project

VisLab, a start-up at the University of Parma, is a global leader in autonomous driving systems development for various vehicle types. The American company Ambarella became aware of VisLab’s mission in a rapidly developing area characterized by strong competition and decided to strategically acquire the company. As a result, a new headquarter location to accommodate this research was required. Ambarella preferred the research center to remain on University of Parma’s campus in Italy.

Investor Vislab Srl
Parco area delle scienze, 49
43124 Parma, Italy
Architectural Design Studio MFa Architect Mauro Frate
Via Francesco Zanardi, 92/3
40131 Bologna, Italy
Plant Engineering 26zero15 Progetti Srl StP
ing. Roberto Carboni and Diego Caldarini
Via Inzani, 13
26015 Soresina, Italy
LinkedIn profile
Structural Analysis Studio Ergodomus Timber Engineering
Loc. Fratte, 18/4
38057 Pergine Valsugana, Italy


The research center’s construction process was also required to go through a public process with an “integrated procurement” procedure.

Structural Design

The research center building consists of 3 floors (including a large mezzanine) and is constructed entirely from timber: load-bearing perimeter and interior CLT walls as well as roof joists and rib beams. The floor system in particular required a special detailed analysis to study the behavior of two different elements acting together: It consists of glulam beams and CLT floor panels which were to remain visible. The elements could not be connected with glue (infinitely rigid connection) but rather connected with screws distributed along the section (semi-rigid connection).

In order to reduce material, a large part of the indoor piping and electrical needed to pass through the structure interior which posed an additional design challenge. For this reason, specific beam studies were performed with orthotropic shell element models. This analysis optimized the connection screw layout and spacing as well as additional reinforcement around these openings. This resulted in considerable time and cost savings for the manufacturing company.

As seen in the photos, the building has a large glass façade (approx. 2150 sq. ft), which required a special lateral wind bracing system consisting of glulam beams. Seismic considerations was another important design aspect for the entire 3D structure due to the fact that the city of Parma is located in a medium seismicity area and the irregular building shape. Therefore, the RF-DYNAM Pro add-on modules were used to analyze the dynamic behavior in detail and design all connections accordingly. It is important to emphasize this design did not include any reinforced concrete or steel elements to resist lateral loads, and so 100% of the horizontal forces are transferred to the foundation with timber elements only.

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  • Updated 15 September 2020

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RFEM Main Program
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Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements

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