Science Campus

University of Milan’s new Science Campus by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati




Porous communal areas, natural oases, maker spaces and robotically-assembled brick facades feature in CRA’s schematic design for the University of Milan’s new Science Campus, developed with Australian developer Lendlease.

Milan Innovation District
Milan Innovation District – Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

The design proposes a rethink of the traditional university court or cloister, with maker spaces and parametric brick facades assembled by robots. The new Campus will be located within MIND (Milan Innovation District), the innovation park under development on the former site of Milan’s 2015 World Expo – also based on a general masterplan by CRA. In the framework of a public-private partnership scheme, the project sets the basis for a tender dealing with the project financing, which will open in fall 2018.

Milan Innovation District
Milan Innovation District – Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

The design responds to the decision by Milan’s largest university to move its scientific disciplines to a new campus – from the Città Studi area in eastern Milan to MIND. The project puts forward a vision for an open campus that becomes a testing ground for innovative education, while fostering exchanges between the university and the surrounding innovation neighborhood. The Science Campus will host over 18,000 students and almost 2,000 researchers.The project by CRA, extending over an area of more than 150,000 square meters (1.6 million square feet), is based on some fundamental principles:

Milan Innovation District
Milan Innovation District – Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

1. THE COURTS – The new Science Campus draws upon some fundamental characteristics of the Ca’ Granda building, the historical headquarters of the university in the city center of Milan. Similarly to this 15th-century former hospital, the new buildings will be based around court structures. Around a large central square, five cloisters unfold as the heart of university.

2. PARAMETRIC BRICK FACADES – An additional tribute to the Ca’ Granda building is based on facade materials. The walls of the new Campus are covered with bricks. However, starting from a digital parametric design, the bricks will be arranged and assembled also with the help of robots, so as to showcase images or symbols in a potentially reconfigurable 3D “talking facade.”

Science Campus
Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

3. COMMON GROUND AND OPEN UNIVERSITY – Adding to the urban principles of the wider MIND area, the project creates a “common ground”: a public space that winds its way across the Campus, also thanks to a series of pedestrian crossings that pierce the buildings’ curtain, giving access to the courtyards and cloisters. At the same time, the ground floor of the buildings will be largely transparent, to show the educational environments to the public. The university spaces will be designed as flexible and reconfigurable, allowing an optimal use of resources and encouraging innovative sharing-driven teaching methods, from maker spaces to open learning areas.

4. CITY AND NATURE – CRA’s design includes not just the faculty buildings and the surrounding public areas, but also green spaces surrounding the architectural complex. In addition to the greenery in the cloisters and on the roofs, a sequence of botanical gardens, experimental greenhouses and sports fields will be linked to MIND’s linear park and to the navigable waterways of the former Expo area. The entire Campus will be exclusively accessible to pedestrians, while the energy supply will achieve sustainability thanks to the contribution of a dedicated technology center. Source by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati.

Science Campus
Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
  • Location: MIND-Milan Innovation District, Milan, Italy
  • Architect: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
  • Project Team: Carlo Ratti, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Saverio Panata (project manager), Samuel Colle Dominguez Maldonado (project manager), Matteo Zerbi (project lead), Andrea Giordano, Chiara Morandini, Federico Riches, Nicola Scaramuzza
  • Structural, MEP and Sustainability Engineering: AI Group (Carlo Micono, Guido Zanzottera)
  • Developer: Lendlease
  • Year: 2018
  • Images: Gary di Silvio, Gianluca Zimbardi, Pasquale Milieri, Courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

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