Environmental responsibility and urban regeneration: a model of experience that looks to innovation and new interactions and relationships
MI.C is a project of urban design, landscape and architecture that aims to regenerate the multi-faceted polarity of Stazione Centrale. The new architectural complex created by the intervention will give new life to the former Hotel Michelangelo, a building that has been a symbol of Milan's skyline for more than half a century.
Conceived as a binding element of Milan’s urban fabric that, despite the intense and dynamic use of the entire area, lacks a precise identity, the project proposes a series of interventions on Piazza Luigi di Savoia and represents a turning point for a changing city. The concept’s goal is to aims at rationalise travel flows and implement pedestrian traffic: in the proposed transition the green plays a key part, thanks to the creation of a garden at the foot of the new complex, and the implementation of an expansive natural landscape. Tree-lined paths and urban gardens become new places for social aggregation and relationship. The existing services, such as taxis and bike sharing, will be boosted through the creation of a bicycle parking station and co-working areas directly connected to the new building.
Once a major legacy of the history of Lombardy's capital, during the hardest phase of the pandemic Hotel Michelangelo was turned into the first Covid-19 convalescence centre. One of the main design goals was to conceptually preserve this diverse heritage by reusing part of the pre-existing building's structural material: thanks to a targeted deconstruction process, as much as possible of Hotel Michelangelo's concrete will be reused, partly in the new building and partly in the design of the public space. By integrating the building within a concept of circular system aimed at using existing resources, this process mitigates the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and opens up to the concept of Urban Mining – the possibility of obtaining secondary raw materials from the built environment.
Consisting of two adjacent towers rising from a building with a continuous façade, the new complex uniformly merges with the rest of the block. On the ground floor, the lower building creates a natural extension of the square. The overall architectural quality of the entire system is enhanced by an articulated system of different green spaces developing from the entrance through to the communal spaces at the top. Similar to a 'green backbone' that starts from the outside, this system rises up to the ground floor hall and runs inside the building, expanding in places to define indoor and outdoor natural spaces.
The façade, which is the most dynamic element of the project, adapts and changes in accordance with the building's daily life. As well as being a motif of architectural design, glass plays a starring role thanks to cusp-shaped elements – some opaque, other partially transparent – that change their inclination vertically. On the floors where the green spine emerges and extends towards the city, the façade opens up, increasing its transparency and revealing the natural element contained within. The resulting building is an adaptable structure that changes in accordance with the specific experiences hosted within.
Park Associati (architectural design), ESA Engineering (energetic strategies, sustainability, plants, fire prevention, lighting), Milan Ingegneria (structural design), B&B Progetti (cost control), Luca Mangoni Architetto (architectural and urban planning coordination), Faces Engineering (façades expert).