Stefano Boeri and Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveil plans to revive Pirelli 39 in Milan

Commissioned by COIMA SGR and Milan municipality, Stefano Boeri and DS+R have designed a botanical tower beside the existing Pirellino tower as part of the Pirelli 39 revival project.

by STIRworldPublished on : Feb 25, 2021

Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti have been appointed to overhaul the Pirellino tower and revive the Pirelli 39 property in Milan, home to the aforementioned tower, following their announced win in an international architectural competition hosted jointly by the the real estate company COIMA SGR and the Municipality of Milan. Apart from the revitalisation of the iconic tower, the plan also involves building a plant-lined tower beside it, sporting botanical equipment and local flora, improving the sustainability of the site and its surroundings.

Located in Milan, Italy, Pirelli 39 strategically sits at the centre of the Port Nuova Gioia, between the Central Station and Scalo Farini, and has been cited to have immense real estate value, capable of drawing nearly €300 million in investments. Decommissioned by the Municipality of Milan for being inefficient for modern use in March 2015, owing to its structural and seismic inefficiency and outdated compliance to building byelaws, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Stefano Boeri Architetti proposed to overhaul the 1950s Pirellino office skyscraper, and build a plant-lined timber tower to neighbour it, connecting the two towers by a ‘bridge building’ in between.

The project aims to improve not only the sustainability of the site but also its surroundings | Pirelli 39 designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti and Diller Scofidio + Renfro | STIRworld
The project aims to improve not only the sustainability of the site but also its surroundings Image: Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

The architects' proposal envisions a mixed-use model of public-residential-tertiary space through the revitalisation of the existing tapered skyscraper built by Gio Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi in 1958 to modern day standards. The Skyscraper will be linked to a new green-walled tower via a multi-storey glass bridge over Melchiorre Gioia. This scheme will not only protect Pirellino from demolition for its currently outdated environmental performance and seismic protection, it will also contribute to the revival and sustainable growth of the surrounding area.

The new plant-lined timber tower, clearly signatory of Boeri’s style and primarily residential in nature, will contain a number of apartments draped with 1,700 sqm of greenery. The studios claim the vegetation will absorb 14 tons of carbon dioxide and produce nine tons of oxygen per year, equivalent to the activity of a ten thousand square meters of forest area. To further ensure sustainability, the studios have incorporated 2,770 sqm of photovoltaic panels, empowering the tower with the ability to generate 65 per cent of its energy needs. To decrease its carbon footprint, the building sports wooden structural parts, including 1,800 cubic meters of wood for the floors, amounting to 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide being saved during the construction phase.

The two towers will be connected by a bridge structure, creating a new hub for events and shows | Pirelli 39  designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti and Diller Scofidio + Renfro | STIRworld
The two towers will be connected by a bridge structure, creating a new hub for events and shows Image: Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

The studios’ ambition with the existing Pirellino tower is to preserve and maintain the character of the original building while equipping it with features that align it to the Next Generation European Union standards. These standards are a part of the EU's COVID-19 recovery plan that also pronounces guidelines to help combat climate change. The tower will see some extensive alterations to its structure and layout, making the office space abide to the current standards of innovation and sustainability. While the new design envisions to mitigate older, existing challenges, it will also house botanic equipment along its facade, improving the tower’s relative energy performance.

Both the towers will be connected via a meandering, multi-storey glass bridge. Spanning over Via Melchiorre Gioia, one of the city's main roads, the composite and elaborate bridge structure will create a new space for events, shows and exhibitions. An extension of Milan's Biblioteca degli Alberi (Library of Trees), packed with innumerable species of plants, the bridge will also act as a dedicated laboratory, delivering an immersive, interactive and innovative experience.

The bridge will house innumerable species of plants | Pirelli 39  designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti and Diller Scofidio + Renfro | STIRworld
The bridge will house innumerable species of plants Image: Courtesy of Stefano Boeri Architetti

One of the main drivers in the development of the project was choosing to reuse the existing iconic building over demolition and reconstruction. Stated in an official release by COIMA SGR, the partnering studios, DS + R and Stefano Boeri Architetti, have both thus “portrayed strong alignment to the principles of sustainability, with a major focus on environmental impact, urban transformation and relationship of the project with nature and the city”.

“Our studio is thrilled to have this opportunity to make a meaningful architectural contribution to the city of Milan, our first project in Italy. As much of our work focuses on the future of cities, the Pirelli 39 project presents a great opportunity to develop a new model of mixed-use development and sustainable urban growth," said Elizabeth Diller, Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "The project combines the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings with environmentally responsible new construction, and a vibrant ‘living’ cultural destination devoted to the art and science of plants".

Stefano Boeri, Founder of Stefano Boeri Architetti, stated on the same occasion that "this project will reinvigorate the iconic former Pirellino building, creating a new tower that mixes architecture and nature to create a green space that is open to the whole city. In such a difficult period, this project relaunches the vision of a forward-looking Milan and bravely faces the great challenges of the climate crisis".

(Text by Sharmin Oanali, intern at STIRworld.com)

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