Feltrinelli Porta Volta building complex, Milan – Herzog & de Meuron
The Feltrinelli Porta Volta building complex by Herzog & de Meuron, exterior views from the east. Photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
Feltrinelli Porta Volta, Milan – Herzog & de Meuron
Feltrinelli Porta Volta is a building complex, designed by Swiss architectural office Herzog & de Meuron, located in Viale Pasubio in the Porta Volta district of Milan (hence its name).
Inaugurated in 2016, the 200-meter / 650-foot long complex consists of two pitched-roof buildings containing offices, a reading room, multifunctional spaces, cafes, restaurants, and shops The eastern building also houses the headquarters of the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation, while the western one accommodates that of Microsoft Italy.
The profile of the concrete and glass buildings was inspired by that of the cascina, the traditional north-Italian, and Milanese, rural farmhouse.
As Herzog & de Meuron say: “The new buildings are inspired by the simplicity and generous scale of historic Milanese architecture as Ospedale Maggiore, Rotonda della Besana, Lazaretto, and Castello Sforzesco. They are also inspired by the long, linear Cascina buildings of traditional rural architecture in Lombardy, which already were an important reference in Aldo Rossi’s work, for instance, his residential building in Gallaratese.
This is why we propose an elongated and narrow architecture which, in a vaguely figurative way, introduces a roof which melts into the facades. The structure expresses the geometrical conditions of the site in a rotation of its members and balances between transparency and spatial definition. Façade, structure, and space form an integrated whole.”
Overall, the project by Herzog & de Meuron is quite interesting. Yet, it would have been much better with its original layout. Indeed, the first design proposed by Herzog & de Meuron in 2012 envisaged a third, shorter, building on the south side of Viale Pasubio, thus making the visual relationship between the new complex and the 19th century Porta Volta toll gates nearby much more clear and powerful.
Rendering of the original design by Herzog & de Meuron for the Feltrinelli Porta Volta complex showing the two specular buildings which recall the historical gates of Porta Volta nearby
The concrete and glass southern facade of the Feltrinelli Porta Volta complex seen from Via Varese. Photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
Feltrinelli Porta Volta, east facade, and facade detail. Photos © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
Feltrinelli Porta Volta, cross-section, and south elevation; courtesy Herzog & de Meuron
Feltrinelli Porta Volta, north facade. Photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
View of the narrow passage which divides the two buildings of the Feltrinelli Porta Volta complex, and connects the pedestrian street on the north edge of the site to Viale Pasubio. Photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit