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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.

Microsoft Milan in Italy by Flores Prats Arquitectos

 
February 28th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Flores Prats Arquitectos

In 2007 Microsoft Italia chose to establish its headquarters in a rural landscape characterized by the seasonally shifting pattern of agricultural production. The proposal focused on the condition of agricultural fringe, an opportunity to create a transition; to create a meeting point between two technologies, working the fields and working with computers. These two realms of technology develop in parallel, with neither prevailing over the other.

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos 

  • Architects: Flores Prats Arquitectos
  • Project: Microsoft Milan
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Photography: Enzo Barraco, Filippo Romano, Filippo Abrami
  • Situation: Peschiera Borromeo, Milan, Italia.
  • Project: August 2007- August 2008.
  • Construction: December 2008 – August 2011.
  • Promoter: Microsoft Italia + Vitali Spa.
  • Architecture and Landscape: Flores & Prats, Barcelona.
  • Engineer: Studio MPartner Srl, Milan;
  • Botanic Adviser: Luigino Pirola, Bérgamo
  • LEED Certification: Greenwich Srl
  • Interiors: ReValue, Milan.
  • Area: 150.000 m2 of plot.
  • Budget: 150.000.000 euros.
  • Program: Campus for Microsoft Italia. Offices and services 45.260m2; Auditorium for 400 people, 2.560m2; Kindergarten for 90 kids, 3.000m2; Underground Parking for 1000 cars, 26.500m2; Landscape 55.000m2.
  • Awards: First International Prize Dédalo-Minosse inVicenza, June 2011. LEED GOLD Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
  • Software used: A combination of hand drawing with Computer Assisted Design

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

The project is located in the flat terrain of the Padana plains out ofMilan, characterized by their broad horizons, patterned fields, tree rows, canals and spring-fed irrigation channels. The new Microsoft Italia campus is enclosed in a chamber created by extended tree rows that flow in from the landscape.

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

The design proposal implies a stitching together of the two fabrics, the purity of the architectural volumes with the broad landscape. The proposal responds to both the clients need for a new entrance to the building and also to the broader agricultural landscape. The lines in the project are connected to the lines of the cultivated fields, their rhythm is natural and develops in the same way as the natural landscape.

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

The project drags the agricultural landscape in and around the buildings of the campus, it moves in a field that is both ambiguous and clearly defined at the same time. The furrows of the landscape approach the built form and then rise up in all their power, suspended over the walk way. They then stretch out and envelop the volumes of the building by climbing up the glass facades.

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

People entering and leaving the building are sheltered by a series of pergolas: “shade pergolas” composed of metal lines and parallel tubes at different heights and then one single “rain pergola” made of glass and metal, running at a lower height. The origin of the structure is not clear, does it rise out of the trees or from the building facade? The expanse of the brise-soleil, which detach from the vertical plane to a horizontal one, invite you out from the walkway onto the campus.

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

Aeration and illumination cones from the underground parking punctuate this intermediate landscape. Similarly to the furrows of the fields, pathways carve through this intermediate space to create places for work and play. The new green volumes of the day-care centre, for 60 children, project themselves against the stand of trees announcing the Gambarone spring, acting as another connection to the irregular landscape. The buildings enclose a courtyard for the children, similar to a fragment of a field defined by endless tree rows.

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

The swath between the offices and the fields is now a hive of activity, which permeates out into the landscape, the two landscapes share and cohabitate the swath. When under the transitional space of the pergola, we will ask ourselves once again: to which world does it belong? The shadows of the metal lines, like the ploughed fields in winter, are where different situations come into being, where the important thing is to design a dialogue.

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

Image Courtesy © Filippo Romano

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy © Filippo Abrami

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

Image Courtesy © Enzo Barraco

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

Image Courtesy Flores Prats Arquitectos

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