Feltrinelli Porta Volta

Feltrinelli Porta Volta

Herzog & de Meuron

SD Partners
Milan, Italy | View Map
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Stories By
Herzog & de Meuron

Julien Lanoo

Feltrinelli Porta Volta

Herzog & de Meuron as Architects

Strengthening and Reinforcing the City

The overall masterplan for Porta Volta holds an important strategic potential for creating a positive impact on the surrounding area, due to its important urban dimension. As part of the redefinition of the area Porta Volta, Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli intends to relocate its seat to the northern centre of Milan, considered as an ideal environment for the foundation’s multiple activities. Together with the building of Fondazione, the project includes the development of two further buildings, mainly dedicated to offices, and a generous green area as extensions of the existing boulevards.


A Site Steeped in History

The historical analysis of the site drove the evolution of the design proposal. The urban organisation of Porta Volta traces back to the course of the Mura Spagnole, the ancient 16th century city walls which were the last of a series of fortifications which since Roman times have defined the city’s growing boundaries. After the opening of the bastion in the late 19th century, Via Alessandro Volta laid the basis for the city’s extension outside the ancient walls, connecting as a new, prominent urban axis the historical centre with Cimitero Monumentale. Today, the emptiness of the site is a testament to the walls and, at the same time, reminds one of the destructions this area has suffered during the Second World War.


A Gate as Point of Reference within the City

Together with a series of preserved gates, the two Caselli Daziari di Porta Volta offer an important reference point within the Milanese city plan. The allocation of Edificio Feltrinelli and the Fondazione along Viale Pasubio and the allocation of Edificio Comune along Viale Montello opposite the axis Via Alessandro Volta underline this historical gate, taking up the Milanese tradition of twin buildings as in Piazza Duomo, Piemonte or Duca D’Aosta. Besides the preservation of the Mura Spagnole’s archaeological remains, the concentration of building mass endeavours to create a generous public green area as extensions of the existing boulevards. On the street level, the new edifices will house cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering an area for interaction and recreation to the citizens.


A House for the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli

A narrow gap separates the Fondazione from the adjacent building, reflecting two autonomous constructions which are simultaneously part of an overall whole. The ground floor of the Fondazione accommodates the main entrance, cafeteria and book store, followed by the double height multi-functional space on the first floor, and an office area on both the third and fourth floors. The reading room on top of the Fondazione offers researchers and interested public the opportunity to study documents from the historical collection stored in the secure underground archive.


A Milanese Project: Scale, Structure and Repetition

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. The redefinition of Porta Volta will intrinsically be a Milanese Project, taking up themes of Milanese urbanism and architecture, which through the course of history have led to a series of emblematic buildings for which the City of Milan is renowned.

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30-degree shading

MERMET S.A.S. as Shading manufacturers

It is the most eagerly anticipated architectural project in Milan: the Feltrinelli Foundation is also the symbol of the renewal of the historical district of Porta Volta in the north of the city.Thermal comfort, light control, transparency and seamless integration within the facades were the main objectives of this exceptional project.This unique technical challenge was successfully met by Mermet, the market leader in the design of solar protection fabrics. The award-winning Pritzker Prize architects selected the Satiné 5500 fabric for its astounding levels of performance and its ability to adapt to the unusual constraints specified for the building.

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Feltrinelli Foundation represents the typical farms from the Lombardy region: long and narrow with a 2-pitch roof. In this ultra modern version, the facades and roof are fully glazed. Over its 7 floors, the premises accommodate multifunctional areas designed to host artistic screenings and events, alongside offices, meeting rooms and the head office of Microsoft Italy.

Light control was therefore of fundamental importance in order to:

•Eliminate backlight in the offices, notably on projection screens;

•Provide optimum visual comfort for users occupying the rooms;

•Combat the glare caused by reflected sunlight;

•Guarantee thermal comfort by offering protection against heat;

•Provide perfect transparency with a clear view over this historical district whose architecture dates back to the 15th century.

Furthermore, certain facades with a 30-degree slope and fitted with trapezoidal windows represented a particular challenge for the fitting of blinds.Accordingly, 320 ZIP roller blinds in the Satiné 5500 fabric and colour 0130 Grey Charcoal by Mermet, covering some 6,000m2, have been deployed on the southern facade, composed of:

•192 vertical ZIP blinds 3.49 m high and 2.14 m wide;

•128 ZIP blinds, developed as a world's first (traction kitsystem by Resstende) and specially designed for vertical, horizontal and oblique applications,with the ZIP system giving the fabric an ideal tension to create a perfect finish and offering excellent wind resistance.

Available in 50 colours and width sizes of up to 320cm for equipping large bay windows, the Satiné 5500 fabric stands out due to its many properties:

•Unrivalled protection against heat: up to 96% of the solar energy is reflected back in exterior applications (gtot of 0.04 with standard glazing gvalue= 0.32 and Uvalue= 1.1);

•Ideal visual comfort with excellent glare control thanks to its diagonal satinéweave while optimising the intake of natural light: up to 96% of light rays are filtered out (VT: 4%);

•Lower costs: 6 width sizes to optimise the utilisation of the fabric and reduce wastage;

The Satiné 5500 also stands out for its:

•Excellent dimensional stability for large-dimension vertical blinds and its perfect suitability for ZIP applications;

•Excellent mechanical resistance when stretched;

•M1 fire protection classification to meet the requirements of public buildings;

•Remarkable durability: 10,000-cycle mechanical endurance test, Class 3 NF EN 13561.

Selected to equip this building so emblematic of the renewal of the entire district, Mermet once again demonstrates its expertise and ability to satisfy the most demanding of architecture in terms of solar protection: by being incorporated at the design phase, it is no longer an isolated element and is even able to become a source of innovation.


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Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct name
Shading manufacturersMERMET S.A.S.
Demetra, UNTERLINDEN | Brass pendant lamp, Pipe Floorlamp, Picto, Algoritmo, Ourea, Unterlinden Table Lamp
Metal workingVIV DECORAL
Powder coating, Finishes on metals
SunshadeResstende S.r.l.
Product Spec Sheet
Shading manufacturers
Demetra, UNTERLINDEN | Brass pendant lamp, Pipe Floorlamp, Picto, Algoritmo, Ourea, Unterlinden Table Lamp by Artemide
Metal working
Powder coating, Finishes on metals by VIV DECORAL
Vivienda Poble SEC
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