Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS + R) and Stefano Boeri Architetti have won the competition for the regeneration of an abandoned building in Milan, connecting the Biblioteca degli Alberi park with a laboratory greenhouse to educate on environmental impact and building re-use.
The construction, called ‘Pirelli 39’, is located in the center of the Porta Nuova Gioia area in a strategic position between the Central Station and Scalo Farini and provides access to Porta Nuova from the north towards the city centre. It was 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, inefficient for modern use, with structural problems as well as pollution and environmental-urban-building degradation, and bringing it in line with the buildings in its surroundings. Its redevelopment is part of the regeneration process of the wider area that started with the redevelopment of Gioia 22 and will be completed in the coming years with the development of Pirelli 35 and Gioia 20.
The DS + R and Stefano Boeri Architetti proposal envisages a mixed-use model of public-residential-tertiary spaces through the recovery of the existing tower, the bridge-building over Melchiorre Gioia, and the construction of a new tower.
1,700 square meters of vegetation, distributed on the floors so that the flora and fauna will change the colors of the building as the seasons change, will absorb 14 tons of CO2 and produce 9 tons of oxygen per year, like a 10 thousand square meters forest. With 2,770 square 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.
The existing 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.
The project will redesign 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 that will be a dedicated laboratory to provide an immersive, educational, interactive and innovative experience among various plant species.
“Our studio is thrilled to have this opportunity to make a meaningful architectural contribution to the city of Milan, our first project in Italy,” said Elizabeth Diller, Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “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. The project combines the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings with environmentally responsible new construction, and a vibrant ‘living’ cultural destination devoted to the art and science of plants.”
“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,” comments Stefano Boeri, Founder of Stefano Boeri Architetti. “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.”
70 groups took part in the international competition with 359 architecture, landscape / urban design and engineering firms representing 15 countries (Austria, Belgium, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, England, Italy, Norway, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, USA). The finalists selected by the jury were Studios 3XN (Denmark), David Chipperfield (England/Italy), Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Stefano Boeri Architetti (USA/Italy), Heatherwick (England), Vittorio Grassi (Italy), Wilmotte (France). The winning project is the one presented by Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Stefano Boeri Architetti.