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The Politecnico di Milano’s Architecture Campus

The Politecnico di Milano’s new Architecture Campus which is a clear statement of the university’s excellence and place amongst the key international architecture schools, was officially opened on 22 June 2021 in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.
Ottavio di Blasi’s design, based on sketches by Renzo Piano, is a radical reorganisation of the spaces in the Via Bonardi complex, that in the 1950s and ‘60s welcomed design contributions from Gio Ponti, Piero Portaluppi and Giordano Forti. From an architectural perspective, the project essentially involved inserting three new buildings into this context. The architect Di Blasi consciously decided not to link the new structures to the existing ones and focused on technological solutions and contemporary materials instead. 
The centre of the project is the new paved parterre, that measures approximately 8,000 sqm and includes 130 new plants: a solution that allows the university spaces to be interwoven with the urban ones, an idea that is particular dear to Renzo Piano and his belief in “patchwork” design.
The new buildings cover approximately 4200 sqm, partially underground, and contain halls for approximately 800 students. The heart of the teaching campus is the Architectural Model Lab (LABORA), a complex that contains traditional model making facilities, focused mainly on wood and resin, as well as buildings for digital and 3D printing. 
This large space, furnished with large tables and work equipment, is flooded with light from its glass walls during the day. While at night it is illuminated by homogeneous, diffuse lighting created from a coordinated layout of IN60 light lines and iRoll pendant luminaires. The same design is used in some of the other halls too. In the laboratory the weight sustained by the ceiling is clearly visible. The design has chosen to abandon the traditional solution of false ceilings in favour of exposing structural elements (X-Lamm beams and floors) and systems (air and light distribution and integrated radiant conditioning modules). Every technical feature can be seen and understood by the students. The building is a manifesto for the integration of different architectural components in which form, function, structure and systems are addressed together, as a single entity.

The Student Lobby includes an area for socialising, illuminated by Laser Blade luminaires, that leads onto the parterre, through the mediation of a portico illuminated by iPro spotlights. The parterre includes minimalist, concrete benches that are also light points, thanks to Underscore InOut luminaires applied to their lower areas. Around them, trees offer shade during the day, while at night UFO luminaires fitted with SC (Symmetric Comfort) optics guarantee optimal comfort and a sense of safety by offering semi-cylindrical illumination that ensures people’s faces can be seen perfectly. The buildings are topped with terraces that become further spaces for socialising with the same concrete benches as before and the same Underscore inOut lighting. 
In the spaces behind the Rector’s office that open onto the entrance hall, with its distinctive vaults supported by marble columns and lit by View luminaires, a space has been created for a Politecnico Museum and the exhibition “Made in Polimi”. The exhibition, lit by Palco spotlights, recounts the projects that students and lecturers have designed and constructed during their academic and professional careers, within and outside the university. They are stories of inventions and patents, objects, buildings and infrastructures. But, above all, they are the stories of men and women and of discoveries that are the result of long, patient research and limitless passion.
 “Made in Polimi” can be visited, free of charge, from Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 7 pm, demonstrating, once again, how this campus seeks to open up and permeate with its urban context.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Politecnico di Milano
  • Architectural project:
    ODB&Partners- Ottavio Di Blasi
    from an idea of Renzo Piano
  • Lighting project:
    ODB&Partners - Ottavio Di Blasi
  • Photographer
    Michele Nastasi

Project Quote

"The Campus is designed by light: both natural light and artificial light. By day the architecture consists of transparencies and lightness while at night, light becomes a discreet feature that fuses completely with the space. The artificial lighting is completely integrated in the design of the ceilings in which structures, systems and lights merge into a single overhead architectural feature."

Ottavio Di Blasi

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