LOCATION Milan, Italy
YEAR 1990
STATUS Project
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli
TEAM  Cesare Macchi Cassia, Marcello Grisotti

Intended as a part of the city and not as a building, the design of the new Polytechnic in Milan is built on a large central void intended as an urban park. In this case it is the park that is the generating element of the part of the city; it is with respect to the shape and size of the park that the elements of the project are placed.
Again, the main road system remains outside the system; tangent to it to serve it, it takes no structural role. At either end of the park stand two collective buildings intended for two of the university’s own activities: the library and the lecture hall. Perpendicular to this axis a system of two plazas, one administrative the other of services and leisure, defines two other collective places overlooking the park, emphasizing its centrality.

On the long sides of this are the crosses intended for teaching and research activities. The whole system follows the rules of construction of the ancient city, from the hierarchy of public places, to the orderly arrangement of blocks, with a single, important variant from the ancient city: that the general context of placement of urban elements is the natural ground (restored to nature after the demolition of a large industrial plant) in which the relationships that identify the place intended for the University are established. The form of the place takes on meaning through the architecture of the buildings and their relationships in a context that enhances their civic value. The squares that overlook the park, such as the library or the lecture hall building, or conversely the park that becomes the site of the viewpoints of the squares, the library, and the lecture hall building, establish the proper sense of place. A kind of estrangement of urban elements that, in a natural context, make their character even more evident. In this, as in all projects at this scale, buildings can be designed by different architects. Certainly the architecture of each building is important; it is especially important that it be able to interpret, in addition to the reasons proper to the institution for which it is built, the reasons of the place. However, the individuality of each building, its posing as a “character” within the context, allows each to be built with its own relative autonomy. The conditions of the construction of the city of history are reproduced, which entrusts, within established and shared rules, the design of its artifacts to different architects. The design of the new Polytechnic at Bovisa confirmed this possibility. Eleven architects of different tendencies collaborated on the project, but they were able to interpret the general rules of the plan and find within those the margins of freedom to express their own point of view. All urban projects of this size should allow for the involvement of different points of view. It is a guarantee of greater richness, but above all it is a test of the rationality of the principles underlying the overall plan.


Massimo Ferrari (edit by) Antonio Monestiroli Opere, progetti e studi di architettura Electa Milan 2001