With its total area of 130,000 square metres, "Il Centro" is one of the largest shopping galleries in Italy and among the largest in Europe. It occupies part of the former Alfa Romeo production area, that has been cleared of its industrial structures.
The front façade, almost one kilometre long, has a horizontal design marked by continuous wooden porticos, supported on stone clad columns. The façade is inspired by the Lombard farmsteads with pergolas, large windows and louvred shutters. These architectural elements continue inside the shopping mall. Along this front there are five entrances, marked by large wooden canopies that are supported on pillars in green marble from the Alps. The main hexagonal entrance is the hub of the shopping centre and from where the hypermarket is entered and the shopping areas extend. The entire shopping centre is in fact a long double-height gallery along which more than two hundred stores and restaurants are arranged. The layout is articulated by squares with over 25 places dedicated to catering (food) and cafeteria. Tall trees enrich retail streets creating comfortable spaces to relax and to meet. The roof of the large internal shopping gallery is made of laminated wood beams and with translucent glass to transmit light in a uniform way. The internal environment has a natural brightness and the passage between the stores evokes the streets of the countries historical city centres.
Although large, "Il Centro" fits harmoniously into the landscape. The use of wood as the main external material, which will age with time creating a natural hue and texture, integrates into the surrounding country landscape. The laminated wood beams and precast concrete structure were chosen for the advantages prefabrication that permitted a very fast construction process. The entire complex has been designed according to the U.S. Green Building Council criteria of energy saving and sustainability, where it obtained prestigious Gold LEED® certification.
The shopping centre is located on an important national transport axis on the outskirts of Milan where three of the busiest motorways in Italy meet, as well as being on the regional Monza-Rho road axis. To facilitate the fluidity and security of the all the transport systems the roads and paths have been divided into four categories: heavy rubber, light-weight, cycle and pedestrian that never directly cross each other.
Michele De Lucchi was a prominent figure in movements like Alchimia and Memphis. He has designed lamps and furniture for the most known Italian and European companies. For Olivetti he has been Director of Design from 1988 to 2002 and he elaborated various theories on the evolution of the workplace. He designed and restored buildings in Italy and worldwide. For banks he has collaborated to the evolution of the corporate image. He has taken care of numerous exhibitions and has planned buildings for museums. In 2000 he was appointed Officer of Italian Republic by President Ciampi, for services to design and architecture. In 2001 he has been nominated Professor at the IUAV in Venice. In 2006 he received the Honorary Doctorate from Kingston University, for his contribution to “living quality”. In 2008 he has been nominated Professor at the Design Faculty of the Politecnico of Milan and Member of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome. During 2018, He is editor in chief of the Domus.