Feltrinelli Foundation. Herzog & de Meuron fill an urban void

Comments (0) Architecture, Art & Culture


Feltrinelli has spared no expense for the building of the Feltrinelli Foundation inaugurated yesterday in the district of Porta Volta in Milan. Two years of work, to realize the project of the important international study of the architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, who make the first permanent architecture in the city of origin of their master Aldo Rossi.
The study, with its registered office in Basel, is recognized as one of the most active and interesting on the world with assets of countless prestigious and important posts (one example the Allianz Arena in Monaco of Bavaria) and winner of the Pritzker Prize , one of the main prizes for architecture in 2001.
The affected area is between Viale Pasubio and Viale Crispi, owned by Feltrinelli from end ‘800 family, and that between Viale Montello and Porta Volta, owned by the City of Milan.
It is a large urban void that lies along the route of the ancient Spanish walls, a fairly central area of the city, near the railway station of Porta Garibaldi and Corso Como. A complex consists of two twin buildings, as good Milanese tradition (Piazza Duomo, Prince of Piedmont and Duke of Aosta), which emphasize the presence of the ancient Porta Volta along the ramparts. The structure is a reinforced concrete frame with a modular, box-like development, regular and repetitive, that relates its internal volume with the surrounding green public, via the large window walls that completely cover the outer surface.
Functionally, the building has four floors above ground plus the ground floor, for a total of five levels, with a development plan and volumetric identical for each level.
The ground floor will house the entrance and a classic and cozy Feltrinelli with an area of about four square meters. This will provide an essential and strategic element of the familiar place of socialization, it represented from the usual completeness of assortment of Feltrinelli and the annexed Cafeteria libraries.



The first floor will be devoted to a multipurpose space with double height equipped to host live art events, projections and visual performances.
The second and third floors will be occupied instead by the Foundation offices and classrooms for meetings, conferences and seminars, which will have a total capacity of about 160 units.
Finally, the library reading room, located on the fourth and top floor of the building will be equipped with Internet access multimedia stations to offer to scholars and users can have access to the historical collection material Feltrinelli, guarded in the basement of the complex.
The project, as we said, drawing a building artefact in two distinct parts, which enhance the urban elements and enhance the ancient port, with two twin structures. A narrow, longitudinal detachment, a strong sign, a sharp and deep cut, almost like the “gap” between the platform and the train of the Metro, separates the two buildings.
This is reflected in two autonomous constructions, which are at the same time strongly perceived as part of a single complex.Structure and modularity are the main themes of the artifact issues, long and narrow, whose roof to pitched roof will reflect the geometries of rural buildings, it is a single continuous lines and materials with the building’s facades.
The entire complex is “grafted” in the historic confines of the 15,000 square meters of the area destined to the new public space, adapting his buildings to the historic track and, as already mentioned, with the right balance between transparency and definition of interior spaces. Just use the full mastery of solids and voids, allows the presence of different spaces, despite the clear and solid unitary perception of the project in its entirety.



Compositional and formal approach from the earliest sketches of study and from the very words of the architects, it became clear the will to develop a separate proposal that would unquestionably be legitimized as “absolutely Milan.”
Herzog & de Meuron have imagined their Foundation as a Porta Urbis integrated into the ramparts system, which so clearly expresses the intention to belong strictly to the city, comparing to the same scale and the urban value of important buildings that characterize the very fabric of Milan such as the Sforza Castle, the Maggiore Hospital and Lazzaretto. So, they chose to reinterpret in a contemporary Lombard Gothic tradition and inherit the strong horizontality and linearity of the Pianura Padana and the simplicity and grandeur of the Milanese architecture which in the past had inspired the same Aldo Rossi in his project for the Gallaratese District.
The decision to reinterpret these important references, has generated an architecture from the seemingly monolithic character, characterized by a strong and distinct impact on the urban landscape, primarily for its dimensional scale – the curtain on Pasubio avenue is 188 meters long, and the spire of ‘building, it stood 32 meters high – but at the same time to the dynamism of continuous acute angles that breaking the linearity of plan and elevation, give life to interesting and unexpected optical distortions volumes, which lighten and enliven the whole, the stemperandone ‘apparent formal rigor.
The structure expresses and adapts to the geometric conditions of the site with the search for balance between transparency and spatial definition. Facade, structure and space form an integrated whole, vaguely Miessiano, subconsciously rooted in the curriculum of every modern designer.
Net of architectural choices, and structural composition of the building itself, the intervention aims to become a strong characterizing element of the ambitious project of redevelopment of the surrounding urban fabric, proposing instead of rambling urban void vast that for decades has wrapped toll Porta Volta, generated from the demolition of the Spanish walls of the nineteenth century and the ravages of war.
The overall masterplan for the district of Porta Volta holds an important strategic potential to create a positive visual impact on the surrounding areas, thanks to its remarkable urban dimension.
From the urban point of view, in fact, the new Foundation building is destined to all people of Milan, as its design was complemented by the creation of a large public green space with paths and bike lanes, conceived in extension of the already existing roads .
The green area, specifically that serves to enhance the visible remains of the Spanish walls contributing to their protection, it is equipped with seating and an area specifically dedicated to childhood games, with lighting designed to ensure safety, especially the evening and during the organization of events and activities.
The implementation of the existing cycle paths in the surrounding areas, will connect the new building with the surrounding neighborhoods, it has been specifically developed a new total of over one kilometer long stretch of the route, which will link via Melchiorre Gioia and the Arena Civica integrating with the subject areas of the new building.
The ambitious aim is therefore to give back to the community a strategic area of the city, with a work designed to be the centerpiece of this redevelopment and for the revitalization of the area, talking at the same time, in the lines of the new buildings, with the context and the history of the city in the most coherent way. If the facts will confirm these efforts, Milan can count on an additional piece of quality inclusive and comfortable, to encourage the responsible use of public space, modeled on European examples.
The Porta Volta building, can then act as a virtuous example of a definitely correct path of dialogue between the built and the space that welcomes him, becoming a permanent instrument for the constant improvement of relations and social fabric, something that in reality always, the mission is expected to decline and ultimate end architecture.

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