Milan || Italy
The Ikeda Cultural Centre for Peace is the largest Buddhist centre in Europe. The design mirrors the coherent intermingling of past and present in a landscape generally marked by heavy construction and major transformation. The historical side is epitomised by the old Guardia di Sopra complex, with a large mansion and related buildings (mews and stables) that form an architecturally impressive courtyard that stands out against this landscape. The contemporary age is represented by a large new auditorium and worship area that is placed longitudinally, creating a visual dynamic with the large courtyard area and historical buildings.
The Naviglio Grande canal - a highlight of the landscape - and the road, running parallel to the waterway, are adjacent to the complex. This configuration naturally draws one's eye to the entrance gate, the historical architecture, the walls of the mews and the new hall, with the park - a vast open space - connecting the two different sections. The conservative restoration of the historical edifices manifests a skilful combination of a global view and attention to detail.
The manner of restoring the old coatings - using different ways to fill in gaps - and recreating the sections of external stone cladding and railings are excellent examples of effective cooperation and exchange with the Government Office for Monuments and Fine Arts (Sovrintendenza) in Milan. The old villa will be used to host events and functions in the future, recalling its original courtly nature. The wings will have meeting spaces, study rooms and communal areas.
The large hall/auditorium/worship space is the modern core.
The overall effect is an integrated cultural vision, a symbol of the relationship between culture and religion, innovation and civilization, in which the emphasis is on peaceful coexistence - the values right at the core of the Centre. The geometry is straightforward, with a diamond-shaped layout and a prism volume that rises up as a sign of balance and alludes to a place of cultural and emotional intensity. The volume of the hall, with a double envelope, is clad on the outside with gilded aluminium plates, while the interior is lined with wooden panels.
The interplay between traditional and contemporary styles is paralleled by the interaction between ancient symbols (the concepts of transformation and vitality) and the contemporary architectural structures, which are also rich in symbolism, that reflect a balanced approach to nature and resource use. The large hall, accessible along walkways, is surrounded by a pond. The resultant effect is of mirrors, fluid images, sensations, integration into nature and contemplation, conveying the symbolism of this vital element and key resource.
On the eastern side, the large glazed wall without any supporting frames contrasts with the façades that are largely enclosed by the metal cladding and opens the view onto the historical section, creating a correlation between concentration and gently diffused light. On the western side of the hall, opposite the glazed wall, lies a stage where meditation can be guided and shows performed for special events. The northern side has glazed volumes for the lobby and the entrance to the room, with all the necessary equipment for the hall.
A very simple arcade forms the first section of the ‘connection’ to the historical section of the complex and then this becomes a simple paved walkway, which is like an invitation - not just symbolic - to take the journey of knowledge.
Location: Corsico, Milan
Client: Istituto Buddista Italiano Soka Gakkai
Gross Floor Area: 1,800 m2
Cost of Construction: 10,000,000 euros
Architects: Peia associati – Giampiero Peia
Art Director: Giampiero Peia
Architects involved in preliminary restoration: Giampiero Peia, Giancarlo Leone, Enrico Colosimo
Works Management: Ai Engineering – Adriano Venturini Contractor: G.D.M. Construction Vittadello Intercantieri
Structural: Ai Engineering – Gabriele Chiellino
Technical Systems: Ai Engineering – Stefano Cremo, Enrico Fabris
Lighting: Martini Illuminazione
Steel and Bronze Door and Window Frames: Secco sistemi
Porcelain Stone Tiles: Casal Grande Padana, FGM Graniti Fiandre
Ventilated Façades: Palagio Engineering
Glass: AGC Europe
Special Painting: Oikos
Furniture: Paolo Castelli, Moroso, Vitra
Sliding Walls: Anaunia
Historical Mouldings: Gasparoli
Photography: © 1-11 Beppe Raso, 12-15 Alberto Strada (+ Drone)
Giampiero Peia – PEIA Associati
Giampiero Peia established Peia Associati with his wife, Marta Nasazzi, in 2006 after working with Luca Meda, acting as assistant and partner with Ignazio Gardella for seven years, and after being a partner with Piero Lissoni at Lissoni Peia Associati.
From urban to interior design, from modular architecture to industrial design, the practice operates in a broad range of areas, including residential properties, private villas, public spaces, public buildings, sports facilities, commercial buildings, factories, towers, hotels and resorts, showrooms, and events.
Its work in the residential, office, and hotel fields has prompted the firm to get involved in researching innovative materials and the latest technologies. The challenge of designing sustainable architecture marks all its work, from low-cost constructions to luxury villas and resorts.