Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Fiera Milano in Milano, Italy by Studio Daniel Libeskind
August 19th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Studio Daniel Libeskind
The Fiera Milano project is located in the heart of Milan, spanning 106 acres on the old fairgrounds of this historic city. The scheme of Fiera Milano incorporates residential and office development, retail space and a museum all built around a central park, a much needed open space within the city. In 2004 Studio Daniel Libeskind along with Zaha Hadid Architects, and Arata Isozaki & Associates won the commission for the development of the site. In addition to leading the master plan, SDL is designing the contemporary art museum, the central office tower, a residential tower, and the first housing parcel.
TOWER AND MUSEUM:
The project is large in both scope and area and will ultimately create a new neighborhood in the cultural and historical context of Milan. The challenge posed by the Fiera site, which is central and critical to the development of Milan, is that it should not be viewed as merely a building development, but something more all together. Milan is a cultural center for Italy, exhibiting the best of what the country has to offer. It is a place that holds the dreams, aspirations and pride of all the Milanesi. It is in this way that the site must be representative of the greatness of Italian design, furniture, fashion technology and deserves nothing less than a visionary, yet practical urban scheme.
Despite the magnitude of the project, the strategy of the proposal is simple and straightforward. It provides a seamless connectivity into the existing city fabric, creating a new neighborhood around a central park and a new public piazza within a beautiful high-rise skyline. The proposal is a series of archipelagos, placed within the park, each proposing a variety of different scales. The housing units, ranging from villas to apartment blocks, are carefully sited on the perimeter of the site and at a scale which resonates within the existing context. The new housing uses the existing plan as a point of departure and creates living typologies that are both sympathetic to the traditional forms yet forward looking. The housing also creates a balance between private courtyards and larger public spaces. The arrangement of the housing parcels maximizes daylight, fresh air and beautiful views. It is clear from this urban scheme that the approach is to provide housing, which is not only flexible within itself, but is also completely different from one parcel to the next. This feature is essential in making this site one which draws upon the richly layered blocks and history of Milan and organically links the housing to the new park.
In order to provide a culturally diverse and exciting mix with the housing, the organization of the scheme carefully places essential cultural buildings and retail amenities on site. An energetic and exciting gateway is provided from the north with the museum building, a space for contemporary arts with exhibition spaces, amenities and an auditorium. Prominent retail stores and public programs provide a compelling magnet to the site. These public programs act as a buffer to the large-scale remaining Fiera buildings to the north while integrating the public park at its center and the housing units to the east, west and southern edges.
Close to the center of the new grand central park are three iconic commercial high rise buildings. This component of the site is deliberately and resolutely concentrated in order to maximize space for a grand park, a grand piazza and the other public and private spaces. The skyscrapers are personally crafted and conceived to provide a sculpted and highly visible skyline on the site. Each building has an individual expression, yet all three are coupled in a cohesive arrangement in order to create the grand public piazza, now called, “Piazza 3 Torri.” The designs of the skyscrapers go beyond superficial treatments of facades and create a spatial and functional disposition of spaces with extraordinary internal vistas and activities for the users. These iconic skyscrapers have been engineered with state of the art technology and are environmentally sound and sustainable. Underneath the new piazza there are retail and particular public amenities which help to dissolve the boundary between the public and private commercial realm. This will be located in direct connection with the a station of Line 5, the planned expansion to Milan’s subway system.
This urban planning proposal marks the Fiera grounds as an urban paradigm for new and emerging lifestyles, recreation and wellness. The proposal is unique in that it does not duplicate any other urban plan. The archipelago arrangements flow into the park containing housing, iconic skyscrapers, cultural and commercial programs. This concept allows for a seamless, practical and economically viable phasing plan which developments of this scale require and can benefit from. By allowing the collaboration of three different architects to flower, the scheme achieves a plurality of expression and heterogeneity of architectural form and public space. This kind of democratic expression of the planning of the city mirrors the rich historical reality of Milan’s history.
The scheme of Fiera Milano is exciting not only in its architecture and planning, but because it deliberately offers stunning vistas, exciting pedestrian experiences, wonderful views and a balance between the commercial space, the workplace and the new living and recreational environments. This project is a paradigm for a new Milan and a competitive edge for the city in a world of increasing competition and importance within Europe.
Now more than ever, on account of winning the competition as Host City for Expo 2015, the words of Daniel Libeskind during the 2004 competition for City Life have a profound meaning for the City of Milan: “There is a wind flying through the city of Milan bringing with it the message of change. This new century is not about the one, but about the many; it is not about one voice, but multiple voices.”—Daniel Libeskind
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