Innovation and optimism lead Milan’s architectural future

We are looking ahead at the exciting architectural future of Milan, Italy's financial and design capital, as the city slowly emerges from the challenges brought by the global pandemic

Piuarch - Human Technopole new building and campus
Milan is emerging from its recent lockdown towards an exciting architectural future. Pictured, the green roof at Piuarch’s ongoing project, the Human Technopole research institute
(Image credit: press)

Milan is a design mecca. This northern Italian city attracts international visitors to the Salone del Mobile furniture fair each spring. But as the season neared this year, a temporary shift in focus saw Italy tragically become – for a while – the epicentre of a pandemic. Streets were deserted, as trees blossomed in the Parco Sempione. The historic Duomo was closed. Now, as the city springs back to life this summer, things are, again, set to change – this time, with a strong sense of optimism and positivity. 

Milan’s Strade Aperte (‘Open Roads’) initiative is becoming one of Europe’s most ambitious mobility schemes. This will dramatically transform city planning, in bringing cycle lanes and pedestrian spaces to 22 miles of city streets, encouraging safe travel. With the city recently grown to 1.4 million-strong, a series of projects are underway, including new housing, as well as education, culture and science hubs. This not only mirrors the population growth but is also set to boost the city's sustainability credentials, and its overall dynamic and role in the global scene. 

At the same time, the financial capital of Italy has aspirations to rival London as a banking hub, after the UK’s departure from the European Union. Italy’s tallest skyscraper, Cesar Pelli’s Unicredit Tower, articulates its business-focused drive. Named after the Italian architect of Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, the Piazza Gae Aulenti stands at the heart of the city’s fast-developing, modern neighbourhood, the Porta Nuova district. Stefano Boeri’s verdant and award-winning Bosco Verticale housing scheme is visible from the square and the area's new park, the BAM. This openness and ambition capture the freedom and innovation of Milan’s architecture scene; and it's a great representation of what's to come in this vibrant metropolis. Take a scroll for yourselves. §

Human Technopole by Piuarch

Piuarch has designed a new building for Human Technopole, Italy’s research institute for life sciences, situated at the centre of the growing MIND, Milano Innovation District. Reaching 61 metres at its highest point, the building will contain over 16,500 square metres for laboratories

Human Technopole new building and campus

(Image credit: press)

Bosco Navigli by Stefano Boeri Architetti

Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, this public-facing, mixed-use housing and commercial structure traces the form of a Milanese courtyard house. Set near the Ticino river area, the building reveals a sustainable ethos in the solar and photovoltaic panels covering the roof and rainwater collection systems. The green courtyard building is set to revitalise Via San Cristoforo in the creative quarter of the south-west area of Milan.

Cstefano Boeri Architetti Bosconavigli

(Image credit: Stefano Boeri Architetti)

BAM Park by Inside Outside and Petra Blaisse, with Simona and Franco Giorgetta

At the heart Porta Nuova district of Milan is BAM, a public park designed for developer COIMA by the Dutch studio Inside Outside and Petra Blaisse, together with Simona and Franco Giorgetta, covering approximately 10 hectares – including a dozen circular forests each dedicated to a plant species, a labyrinth and flower beds of perennial plants designed by Piet Oudolf. Read Oudolf's advise on garden design here.

Porta Nuova - BAM aerial view of the park

(Image credit: press)

Politecnico di Milano architecture campus by Renzo Piano and Ottavio Di Blasi

This is Politecnico di Milano’s answer to the tough global competition among top international architecture schools. Ottavio Di Blasi is overseeing the design, from an original idea by Renzo Piano. The campus will see the restoration of Gio Ponti’s ‘Trifoglio’ and ‘Nave’.

campus di architettura

(Image credit: press)

Bocconi University new urban campus by SANAA

Bocconi University’s campus by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA expands the city's internationally renowned school of economics. With sustainability at the heart of the design, the light and transparent buildings are under construction at the former Central Dairy. 

Bocconi University New Campus

(Image credit: SANAA)

Apple Store, Piazza Liberty Milan by Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners has designed a public space for technology giant Apple. The stepped plaza is close to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the central, pedestrian-friendly street filled with fashion boutiques. The dramatic fountain streams into an amphitheatre, leading to the Apple store.

apple store

(Image credit: Nigel Young/Foster + Partners)

Generali Tower by Zaha Hadid Architects

The residential Generali Tower joins skyscrapers by Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind in the CityLife district, which revitalises the site of Milan’s old International Fair, after its 2005 closure (when the Fiera moved to its current location at Rho). The twisting structure orientates upper floors to face the city centre and the Duomo. Photography: Hufton + Crow

Zha Generali Tower

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

The Portico by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

BIG has designed the final part of the CityLife masterplan. The Danish firm imagines two buildings connected by a 140metre-long hanging roof structure: an urban-scale portico forms the entrance to the district. This creates a shaded public realm, while the buildings will contain offices and a hotel.

Citylife Milan By Big Bjarke Ingels Group

(Image credit: Bjarke Ingels Group)

Museo Nazionale della Resistenza by Herzog & de Meuron 

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the twin building to Porta Volta's existing Fondazione Feltrinelli will house the Museo Nazionale della Resistenza (National Resistance Museum). Completing the urban vision for the Porta Volta area, the two important cultural institutions will frame this ancient gateway of Milan. 


(Image credit: Herzog & de Meuron)

The Fondazione Prada’s Torre by OMA

The Fondazione Prada’s Torre completes the Milan home of the foundation. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, Chris van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli of OMA, the white concrete tower adds height to the architectural complex and offers panoramic views of the city, as well as exhibition space inside.

Prada Torre Oma

(Image credit: Photography Jacopo Milanesi)