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Parallelo Office Building

MCA - Mario Cucinella Architects

Via Santander 9. This unknown Milan address could become in the next few years an architectural focus for the contrast it provides with the relentless obliteration of the cityscape that is literally wiping out other (now gone?) city districts like the former tradeshow, the former Enel plant and the Garibaldi-Repubblica quarter, where “Dallas-ification” is rampant. (Whether these development projects are fictitious or not is a moot point, having long been abandoned in the real Dallas.) The new work by cosmopolitan/Bolognese architect Mario Cucinella in Via Santander reveals several well thought through design decisions. The result stands as a bulwark against the consumption of urban districts now being perpetrated in and around Milan. I talked of this with the architect himself at his practice. The mental notes still engraved on my own brain’s hard disk recorded the few but pointed choices made by the architect. What has Mario Cucinella actually done in Via Santander? Something simple and complex at the same time. He has turned what could have been a 14,000 square metre glazed high rise into a horizontal glazed tower, underlining his feat by making it hover 14 metres off the ground. Why did he do it? To create visual communication between a watercourse, the Olona, that borders the site to the south, and the romantic gardens and campus of the IULM university to the north. As a result, a passer-by on the north side hardly perceives there is a building tucked away behind the foliage of the trees. The building floats above what Walter Benjamin and Adolf Loos called “the line of distraction”. In so doing, it redefines the identity of a highly frequented, but not very popular place. The building, says Cucinella, cancels out all formal and meaningless hierarchies, and gives a new lease of life to a plan centred on an inner courtyard. The court and green paths now create a microcosm of activities whose greenery enhances the working environment. ...

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