The first privately developed lot in MilanoSesto is Unione 0. It will include two residential buildings with internal courtyards and 280 housing units, a student residence with over 700 beds, offices, a hotel, freehold housing, and 32 acres (13 ha) of gardens. Occupying a brownfield site, the former site of the Falck steelworks in the Municipality of Sesto San Giovanni, the Unione 0 project is an emblem and an integral part of one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in Europe. At the official community unveiling in late June, the architects spoke about the cornerstones of the Forster + Partners masterplan, describing it as an osmosis between the public and private sectors, a renaturalization of the area, and the creation of a new relationship with existing buildings while preserving connections to the past. But at an even deeper level, the masterplan and all the individual projects that make it up are human-centric. As Davide Rampello, former president of the Milan Triennale, university professor, and artistic director of Rampello & Partners Creative Studio, said at the event: “A dialogue on the importance of human connections and giving value to people’s stories, while also raising awareness of the importance of intergenerational relationships.”
As mentioned, Unione 0, with its 2.7 million square feet (250,000 m2) of built area, will be the first private lot to be constructed in MilanoSesto. International real estate giant Hines and Cale Street Partners (a real estate investment firm backed by the Kuwait Investment Office, the London office of the Kuwait Investment Authority, and the world’s first sovereign wealth fund, established in 1953) are behind the project, investing in the newly created Unione 0 real estate fund, managed by Prelios SGR, to which Milanosesto SpA, the company in charge of the redevelopment, has transferred this first lot.
Also hosting the Città della Salute e della Ricerca – a public center of healthcare and scientific excellence that will incorporate the new campus and research laboratories of San Raffaele University – MilanoSesto is expected to host 50 thousand residents and visitors a day. The importance of this new urban center will be further enhanced by the development of this first lot, beginning with two buildings of subsidized housing with 280 apartments, designed by Barreca & La Varra. These are “homes of the future,” designed to have a flexible and constant relationship with outdoors. As Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra said at the event, “we see this as another opportunity to develop a design approach that addresses the new housing needs that are emerging so haphazardly, but, once reconciled, will produce a new and characterizing domestic landscape for Milan for the coming years of the 21st century. The home of the future will be flexible and changeable. Its relationship with the outdoors will be marked by a complex and blurred boundary between private and public spaces.” These are some of the characteristics of the two residential buildings, with inner courtyards, which will be bordered by Via Mazzini to the east and, to the north, the raised square of the new elevated rail station (designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Ottavio di Blasi & Partners) with its large 292 x 59 feet (89x18 m) concourse suspended over the existing tracks. The residential buildings, like the rest of the lot, will therefore be connected to the part of the city on the other side of the tracks, which have been divided for many years.
The two buildings, designed by Barreca & La Varra, will be highly recognizable by virtue of their internal courtyards and tripartite design. The transparent base will be open to the entire community. The raised central section will have terraces designed as an extension to life inside the homes. Finally, the top section will be composed of further volumes set back from the main façade.
Park Associati has designed a student residence with over 700 beds, study spaces, shared recreation areas, and fitness spaces – a complex of services intended to strengthen collaboration between students and more. “Working on the student housing has allowed us to continue our research into different forms of living and to experiment with new balances between private and public spaces,” says the studio. “We’ve approached the design process as an ongoing dialogue with both the designers of the other clusters and the masterplan. This is an approach that we believe can enrich any project with new ideas and solutions.”
International architecture and design studio Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel has designed the offices and hotel, which will be located near the new station and Città della Salute e della Ricerca. The project will comprise over 300 rooms on 19 floors, built to sufficiently high environmental sustainability and energy efficiency standards to achieve LEED Gold certification.
Scandurra Studio Architettura is designing the freehold residences, while LAND is responsible for the construction of the first section of the gardens, equal to 32 acres (13 ha) of the 111-acre (45 ha) MilanoSesto district. Responding to the nature of the site itself and the key values of the project, the design sets out to activate new functions in the area, linking and intertwining them with the memory of the places and their industrial past. The design of the park will be based on loops, with the main loop intersecting with other themes. The park will therefore not only be an important place for people to meet, but also an attraction in itself.
The presentation of Unione 0, held at the MIL space in Sesto San Giovanni (a multifunctional space dedicated to creativity and design), was also a chance to put together some environmentally themed installations, such as a path of green plants that guided guests to the central auditorium, where they were offered an advance viewing of examples of the creativity that’s gone into the construction site hoardings, which will be installed along a green wall. The organizers not only got guests interacting and engaging with the project but also provided something of the experience to take home with them in the form of a large installation of cards made with seed paste. Participants were able to take a card home, plant it, and then look after the resulting plant until they can take it back to Unione 0 when they move in.
In attendance at the event were the mayor of Sesto San Giovanni, Roberto Di Stefano, along with the three main promoters of the MilanoSesto project: Mario Abbadessa, senior managing director & country head of Hines Italy; Luigi Aiello, general manager corporate & business development of the Prelios Group; and Luciano Carbone, managing director of Milanosesto Spa.
Occupying an area of 370 acres (150 ha) on the site of the former Falck steelworks in Sesto San Giovanni, MilanoSesto will be an efficient, sustainable, and inclusive urban hub. The masterplan, the work of international architecture firm Foster + Partners, provides for the gradual development of the site over the next few years, with the completed project comprising green areas, residential areas, new squares, retail and office spaces, as well as places intended to encourage people to interact. Located in a strategic position northeast of Milan, MilanoSesto will be well connected with the surrounding area via the new Sesto San Giovanni railway station (work started in July 2021 and will take two years), Milan’s subway network, and the main roads, all of which will allow residents to quickly reach downtown Milan, the tollway network, and the rest of Lombardy.
The European House – Ambrosetti also presented the MilanoSesto development and, in particular, Unione 0, in numbers. According to estimates released in late 2021, once construction is completed, there will be 800 new families moving to the district, including 280 in subsidized housing, 700 beds for students, a thousand hospital beds (in Città Salute and San Raffaele 2), 4800 new office and retail jobs, and 3500 healthcare jobs. On top of this, between 40 and 50 percent of energy will be generated from renewable sources.
Location: Milano, Italy
Masterplan: Forster + Partners
Architects: Scandurra Studio Architetttura, Barreca & La Varra, Park Associati, ACPV - Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel
Render by and courtesy of Barreca & La Varra
Photo: courtesy of MilanoSesto