May 16, 2021

How to redesign a neglected city area

3 min read

Milan’s Pirelli 39 abandoned area (including the building formerly known as Pirellino) located in the Porta Nuova-Gioia district, between Central Station and Scalo Farini, will be getting a redesign and upgrade. Its redevelopment is part of the regeneration process of a wider area and will be completed in the coming years.

Winning the award of the contest for the rejuvenation of the district owned by real estate investment fund Coima SGR with a pool of banks, were Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS + R) and Stefano Boeri Architetti international architectural studios, two firms previously involved in noted green-minded projects as Zaryadye Park in Moscow and Bosco Verticale in Milan, respectively.

The area, decommissioned by the Municipality of Milan in March 2015, represents a significant opportunity to deliver value by upgrading the existing site, which is lacking in sustainability certifications, not compliant with anti-seismic standards and inefficient for modern use, with structural problems as well as pollution and environmental-urban-building degradation. The makeover will bring it in line with the buildings in its surroundings.

Pirelli 39 redesign project: Aerial Park

Photo: DS + R and Stefano Boeri Architetti

Pirelli 39 redesign project: Aerial Park

The DS + R and Stefano Boeri Architetti proposal has designed a mixed use model of public-residential-tertiary spaces through the recovery of the existing tower, the bridge building over Via Melchiorre Gioia and the construction of a new tower.

The project includes the building of a new residential tower completed with 1,700 sq. meters of vegetation, distributed on the floors so that the flora will change the colors of the building as the seasons change, it will absorb 14 tons of CO2 and produce nine tons of oxygen per year, like a 10,000-sq.-meter forest. With 2,770 sq. meters of photovoltaic panels, the tower will be able to self-produce 65% of its energy needs. The building includes structural parts in wood that will decrease its carbon footprint, including 1,800 cubic meters of wood for the floors that will save up to 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide in the construction phases.

A recovery of the existing building is also planned. The old building will be adapted to meet the current standards of office spaces in terms of innovation and sustainability and in line with the Next Generation EU parameters. The project involves maintaining the character of the original building, while updating it in the plant equipment and energy performance and adjusting it structurally with the aim of enabling proper efficiency parameters solving its actual limits and allowing the reuse of the existing building rather than the alternative of demolition and total reconstruction.

South view

Photo: DS + R and Stefano Boeri Architetti

South view

A bridge building is part of the project with the redesign of the separating “wall” on Via Melchiorre Gioia by creating a new hub for events, shows and exhibitions, with meeting and wellness areas and a biodiverse greenhouse space as an extension of the Biblioteca degli Alberi (Trees’ Library) that will be a dedicated laboratory to provide an immersive, educational, interactive and innovative experience among various plant species.

“In light of the health emergency, I believe that the regeneration is key in the strategic relaunch of Italy from a cultural, environmental, social and economic point of view. Our country is full of iconic buildings and extraordinary places which, as in the case presented today, need to be rewritten and rethought according to criteria of sustainability and innovation,” said Manfredi Catella, founder and CEO, Coima SGR.

“Our studio is thrilled to have this opportunity to make a meaningful architectural contribution to the city of Milan, our first project in Italy. As much of our work focuses on the future of cities, the Pirelli 39 project presents a great opportunity to develop a new model of mixed-use development and sustainable urban growth,” said Elizabeth Diller, partner, DS + R.

“This project will reinvigorate the iconic former Pirellino building, creating a new tower that mixes architecture and nature to create a green space that is open to the whole city. In such a difficult period, this project relaunches the vision of a forward-looking Milan and bravely faces the great challenges of the climate crisis,” said Stefano Boeri, founder, Stefano Boeri Architetti.

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