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UNIQLO’s Second Store in Milan: A Harmonious Dialogue with Piazza Gae Aulenti

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

UNIQLO’s second store in Milan opened in the vibrant Portanuova district, at Piazza Gae Aulenti. This area is known for its urban regeneration and is becoming increasingly central and strategic. The store, located in the basement, can be accessed through a stunning glass Entrance Box designed by the renowned architecture firm Piuarch.

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

Piuarch is no stranger to this area, as they have previously designed the adjacent Porta Nuova Building. This building is the only “low rise” structure in the square and houses various apparel and accessory stores, showrooms, and coffee bars. The new UNIQLO store’s Entrance Box measures 10×9 sq. m and features a unique curvy shape with gently rounded lines. It seamlessly blends with its surroundings and engages in a harmonious dialogue with the neighboring buildings and spaces.

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

Rather than obstructing the flow of pedestrians in the square, it actually facilitates movement. The door and store windows allow passers-by to see right through the building, creating a sense of openness and connectivity. The height of the Entrance Box, 4.5 sq. m, has been deliberately chosen to align with the nearby building’s shop façades, further enhancing the dialogue between the two structures.

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

The Box encloses the store windows, lift, and elevators that lead to the retail space. Its ‘double skin’ facade emphasizes the lightness of the structure and its seamless integration with the surrounding space. The transparent effects and carefully designed solids and voids create a visually appealing facade. The gap between the two facades, with varying depths, offers the potential for playing with transparency and even introducing color into the design.

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

The second layer of the building’s exterior consists of a translucent U-glass surface and extra clear glass windows, alternating in a pattern around the internal perimeter structure. These semi-transparent glass sheets, traditionally used in industrial settings to filter light and control heat dispersion, now find new applications in urban architecture.

UNIQLO Entrance Box, Milan, IT / Piuarch

Piuarch has chosen this solution for its ability to bring a sense of lightness and elegance to the walls, while also reflecting the minimalist and simple design principles associated with the UNIQLO brand. The door and window frames, made of white aluminum, serve as a clear reference to the nearby Porta Nuova Building.

Image courtesy of Marcello Mariana