Milan is the city that best represents the international face of Italy, comparable to London, Frankfurt, Paris. Unlike many historical Italian cities, Milan is more related to its development in the nineteenth and twentieth century, to be more precise after the industrial revolution. In this sense, design in Milan is compared with the more contemporary face of Italy, made up of factories, subways, concrete and steel and not so much of particular historical presences. Evidence is the development of the Futurist movement mainly in Milan, a movement created to respond to the issues of the contemporary city. It was not a particularly important relationship with the large existing masterpieces, but rather a reflection on the themes of the contemporary city.
To develop the project, we immediately thought it was not interesting to rely on a single architect for the design of the whole complex, but to start a dialogue. Due to the size of the area, we decided to aim to re-interpret the complexity of the city through many architects with different visions who brought back the tension among buildings through the use of a variety of shapes and materials. In any street in Milan, there are buildings from different periods and with different architectural features. From this belongs the life of a city, in the dynamic tension between the works of later periods in an archipelago of images and colours. This was our ambition, choosing to work in a group.
In our archipelago forms, we found interesting to develop the idea of an endless tower. Now we find skyscrapers of any shape and decoration all over the world. Starting from this, we looked to a fascinating concept to be applied to high-rise buildings, instead of studying only an aesthetically pleasant shape.
In the aspiration of maximum verticality and tension towards the sky, it was a limit to choose a shape and a certain height, so we preferred the concept of a modular system that can be infinitely repeated.
The module is composed by six office floors with a long thin plan of 24x61.5 m. The choice of these proportions is finalised to make the whole volume thinner to emphasise the verticality and make it structurally challenging due to its slender shape.
The facade of the module is composed by a triple glass unit slightly curved outside. The vertical succession of rounded forms creates a feeling of slight movement as the building arises. Elevations of the short sides are fully glazed and show a number of panoramic lifts that mechanically go up and down to the various floors.
The idea of endless tower can be compared to previous ambitions of other artists as Constantin Brancusi, for example, who in 1937-38 installed one of his endless column in the park of Targu-Jiu to create repeatable systems. When asked about the reasons for this idea, Brancusi replied: "We need to support the vault of heaven."
Location: Milan, Italy
Gross Floor Area: 81,615 m2
Architect: Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei
Team: Pietro Bertozzi, Takeshi Miura, Alessandra De Stefani, Chiara Zandri, Vincenzo Carapellese, Roberto Balduzzi, Francesca Chezzi, Takatoshi Oki, Stefano Bergagna, Paolo Evolvi, Elisabetta Borgiotti, Davide Cazzaniga, Adolfo Berardozzi, Hidenari Arai, Higaki Seisuke, Taro Hayashi, Takuichiro Yamamoto, Giuliano Godoli, Giorgio Ramponi, Carlotta Maranesi, Atsuko Suzuki, Sofia Bedynski, Antonietta Bavaro, Mauro Mazzali, Sofia Cattinari, Haruna Watanabe, Madoka Tomita, Ayako Fujisawa
Project management: Ramboll, J&A
Contractor: Colombo Costruzioni, Focchi
Structural: Sasaki and Partners Tokyo, Arup Milano and New York, Cap Engineering
Lighting: LPA - Light Planners Associates
Facade: Arup Milano and Madrid
Cost control: BMS Progetti
Fire project: Silvestre Mistretta
Elevator: Jappsen Ingenieure
Plants: P.T. Morimura & Associates, Ariatta Ingegneria dei sistemi
LEED certification: Manens-Tifs
Photography: © Alessandra Chemollo