mixed-use complex Unicredit Pavilion | The Plan
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mixed-use complex Unicredit Pavilion

Michele De Lucchi

UniCredit Bank’s multipurpose Pavilion is another landmark building of Milan’s Porta Nuova Garibaldi development, a new urban node where a series of striking architectures has completely revitalised an entire city district. Sited next to high-rise volumes, the pavilion is an iconic building on a par with its larger neighbours. Its underlying programme serving multiple functional and representational needs is an exemplar of environmental sustainability and expressively symbolic architecture, combining high-tech and overt references to the natural world. A cultural centre, it accommodates exhibitions, events, conferences, concerts, training courses and workshops. It also contains a nursery school - a welcoming, child-centred environment for children of both bank employees and local inhabitants. 

The pavilion is an amalgam of present-day sentiments and aspirations. Its form strikes a deeply rooted chord, standing out in its ultramodern urban fabric as something from the primordial natural world. Its shape recalls a seed, a stone worn smooth by water, or an unidentified animal. Its smooth sinuous shape resembles a living organism. 

The elevations combine structural requirements and pleasing aesthetics. A regular array of vertical laminated timber slats wrapped around the building forms a structural frame. Transparency is interestingly modulated: the glazed ground floor perimeter offers ample views onto the interior while the upper levels are shielded by an external sun-shading system of operable horizontal laminated timber slats. Standing on a base slightly above the paved pedestrian plaza linking the buildings around this new urban square, the pavilion is entered via a series of single or linked stairs that form a stepped walkway or ramp. Inside, the pavilion divides into a series of focal areas: a 700-seat Auditorium where movable partitions create a series of flexible-format environments; a nursery school whose innovative...

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