13 February 2020
The cornerstones of the new Bocconi Campus in Milan, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the SANAA international architectural firm, are openness, inclusion and sustainability. The Japanese architects won the international competition in 2012, beating the other “excellent” contenders − Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, Thom Mayne, Massimiliano Fuksas, Mario Cucinella, Cino Zucchi, Mathias Sauerbruc and Louisa Hutton, Benedetta Tagliabue – EMBT and Odile Decq. Their project was selected because of “its ability to redefine the concept of campus as an integral element of the urban fabric, with a unitary, organic, non-invasive and at the same time open – physically and visually – to the area,” according to the motivation of a jury led by Sir Peter Cook. The result is a complex that looks like a landscape intervention with powerful urban and emotional impact, in which lightness and transparency prevail – all the outer sides of the buildings are transparent, creating an impression of internal spaces flowing out towards the exterior, the lines are curved; glass is the predominant material, shielded by reticular metal surfaces that make for a visual effect of lightness and suspension; the traditional Milanese urban layout – street, block, gardens, courtyards – has been given a new spin, with the university buildings channelling the architectural courtyard form.
The project took in the entire area previously occupied by Milan’s central dairy, and includes a 300-bed residential unit, four buildings that make up the new headquarters of the SDA Bocconi School of Management and a multifunctional sports centre with two swimming pools – a 50 metre Olympic pool and a 25 metre pool – a fitness area, a basket and volleyball court and a covered running track, along with stands seating around a thousand people. Underscoring their lightness and transparency, the buildings are ring-shaped with large openings to ensure the best possible exposure to light. The outer perimeter faces the city and the park, while the courtyards on the inside provide green spaces for pleasant walks and socialising. In continuity with the building profiles, the park boasts a system of organically-shaped porticoes and canopies, marking out and protecting the internal walkways.
When building the new complex, tremendous emphasis was put on environmental sustainability, and a number of innovative solutions employed to guarantee energy self-sufficiency and prevent harmful emissions. All the building roofs are equipped with high efficiency solar panels and energy saving is guaranteed by the use of heat pumps and refrigeration units, highly energy-efficient building shells and a cutting edge lighting management system which automatically controls the light levels in every single space. Of the 35,000 m2 footprint, 17,000 m2 have been turned over to green spaces, and planted with native species already growing in the adjacent Parco Ravizza, such as oak, common hornbeam and white poplar.
In short, the complex is not just aesthetically harmonious, it also responds to the most advanced environmental efficiency and sustainability demands. It is open to young people from all over the world, to the people of Milan and to anyone who, in turn, wants to find out how to conceive and build the sustainable development of our societies.