One of the most famous world logistics companies could not help but choose the trendiest address in the city for its Milan headquarters. Its formal uniqueness is ensured by imposing itself into the historic fabric of the Corso Como/Garibaldi area in a compact and bright building. It encloses a broad square covered by a large glass roof, with fittings and green areas of urban redevelopment, highlighting all the large windows of the building.
Milan is the city chosen by one of the most famous brands in world logistics. Today, the new headquarters are located in a prestigious area attracting attention with valuable aesthetic solutions, and expressing both harmony and diversity at the same time.
Architects Antonio Gioli and Federica De Leva ( GBPA Architects) were commissioned to convert a dense, dark and closed property into a modern, open, transparent and innovative high-performance building in line with the expectations of 2020: it was the start of a new project that leaves a mark of continuity, in order to respect its past.
The intervention began with the complete renovation of an iconic building from the seventies, the former headquarters of Tecnimont, in Via Montegrappa in the Porta Nuova area, whose aluminium and crystal shell was designed to celebrate the company's technical ability.
The first major challenge was certainly at conceptual level: how to deal with the total renovation of a building strongly representative of the Milanese reality perceived as an "urban object that has always existed". Each intervention has a unique character, based on its location, its orientation on the site, and its particularities are perceived as you move around the perimeter.
The architects found themselves working on an extremely dense and closed building both from the outside inwards and from the inside out. From a planimetric and distributive point of view, the building demonstrated the typical features of the historical context in which it was born: with, for example, many parcelled and watertight areas with limited communication possibilities, inefficiencies related to the position of services and systems, difficult access to the building, up to the tight and occlusive rhythm of the façade that prevented a positive relationship between the inside and outside.
"In the design analysis of the complex to be developed", the architects told us "we based our analysis on the concepts of perceptual and physical permeability of the spaces. We proposed to the client a layout that favours meetings and communications between people by repositioning vertical connections, sharing paths, creating large informal work areas, and so on. As far as the façade is concerned, we decided to retain the architectural element of the sunshade (a strongly characteristic feature of the existing building), but replaced aluminium with glass to guarantee a high level of transparency and luminosity while maintaining its function of shading the sunlight. All this enhances the liveability of the workplaces."
The human factor
Examining the urban context of the intervention, the influence of housing and environmental features could be seen straight away. The building dates back to the seventies, in a context of roads bearing heavy traffic: the situation 50 years later is now different, following the urban redevelopment of the Garibaldi/Corso Como area that has given the area a pedestrianised aspect. The resulting choice required partial demolition of one of the fronts and the harmonious creation of a covered space to create new access to the building with a pleasant, more human effect. The narrative of the rhythm of the new façade is thus harmonised and regulated on the score of the existing one.
The building is designed in accordance with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability requirements. All aspects of the design system (envelope, systems, lighting, architecture) are highly efficient and integrated. The building is able to limit the impact on the environment and is designed with a cultural approach aimed at reducing energy consumption with renewable sources, reducing water consumption, and using materials with particular characteristics and origin, while attending to the life cycle of the building and its components, geared toward the welfare of the occupants and social sustainability.
Narrative context of architecture: Aluminium, glass and stone
Aluminium, glass and stone are used as part of a contemporary narrative widely envisaged and used within the reference context.
The function of the underground floors remains unchanged with parking and mechanical power plants, while the roof has been used as a boardroom with large rooftop garden and the installation of solar/photovoltaic panels.
The connecting body that used to join the two main buildings was also completed in the remaining floors that were not connected before, to provide maximum usability and to connect the various horizontal structures.
The façades that were previously in aluminium and glass have been redesigned, and new, larger glass sun-blocking cells have been installed, specially designed so as to resume and revise the original design with a modern interpretation. Even the previous shielding of the systems made from aluminium and deliberately present in the project façade in the original 70s project were updated by installing glass cells designed on an ad-hoc basis.
The systems in particular are designed to ensure maximum internal comfort and efficiency, adopting hybrid flexible and technologically advanced solutions, aimed at containing consumption and using renewable energy.
The lighting project
The new look of the building needs to integrate with the new urban context of the area. With its new glazed façade, the outside shell has improved the supply of daylight with vertical cuts in the sunshade. This was the starting point for developing a lighting concept combined with natural light.
Low-consumption, high-energy LED lighting fixtures with diffused light that can be adjusted and dimmed via a centralised control system (BMS) regulate centralised switching on and off according to the units in the environment and with the support of natural light. The control system works via automatic control, assisted by local light detectors (natural light), via command controlled by time programs managed by the system and twilight switches positioned outside, or via local controls on the control panel of each half floor of the building.
The regularity and geometry of the structure are illuminated by Zumtobel MIREL luminaire positions in open-space rooms that are also visible from the outside. The outside square has a large canopy illuminated by integrated recessed rows. The surrounding light is an accent light that enhances the columns, the points of the shrubs in the flowerbeds and the thin lines of light along the steps of the access staircase.
The use of Zumtobel/Thorn luminaires has helped the building achieve LEED V3 Platinum certification in accordance with the latest standards for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
Office enclosures: MIREL evolution; PANOS infinity Q
Common areas: SLOTLIGHT infinity; PANOS infinity Q; PERLUCE
Exteriors: D-co Thorn + SLOTLIGHT infinity recessed IP.
Emergency and safety lighting: RESCLITE CROSSIGN Julie
Light for interiors/exteriors/emergencies/management: LITECOM infinity
Guest author: Oreste Griotti