MEET Milan Design, Porta Venezia Architecture, Italian Palazzo Building Images

MEET Milan, Porta Venezia

28 Oct 2020

MEET Milan Digital Arts Center Building

Design: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota

Location: Milan, Italy

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building

Photos by Michele Nastasi

CRA-designed MEET Digital Arts Center Opens in Milan

CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota unveil MEET – Milan’s center for digital culture and creative technology. Occupying a newly renovated historic palazzo, the building revolves around a 15-meter-high vertical plaza. The design investigates how physical space can foster serendipity and unexpected connections between people in a digital world. MEET will open to the public on October 31st, 2020.

October 28, 2020 – CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota have designed MEET – Milan’s center for digital culture and creative technology, which will open to the public on October 31st, 2020. The project occupies a historic palazzo, known for decades as one of the great symbols of cultural life in the city, which has been fully renovated in the last two years with the support of Fondazione Cariplo. At its core, there is a wide vertical public space illuminated by Artemide- including a 15-meter-high habitable stairwell – which can seamlessly turn from theater to workspace to meeting area, and serves as the focal point for all the center’s daily activities and events.

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building

With the MEET project, CRA aims to investigate the meaning of physical space in an increasingly digitized world. It argues that architecture should foster unexpected encounters between people, precisely those that are missing in the digital realm. The design of MEET strives to achieve this aim through the hybridization of functions – that is, the possibility for any space to simultaneously host different activities. Such a design approach is best expressed by the central vertical plaza, but it extends throughout the center, to multiple rooms for exhibitions, talks, and performances.

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building

“What is the role of physical space in a digital world? Today, we continue to live and work in pandemic-induced isolation where almost anything can be done online. At this time, it is vital to use architecture to produce serendipitous moments and help foster new connections – precisely those that rarely happen on the web,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and professor of the practice of Urban Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “One way to achieve this objective is to overcome any strict division of spatial functions. When every place can serve multiple purposes, it brings together multiple communities, facilitating the generation and circulation of new ideas.”

The vertical plaza at the core of the building embodies the project’s vision. All around a brightly-colored stairwell that moves in a zigzagging fashion, people can stop onto a series of asymmetric landings, enriched by a system of multimedia projections. These spaces can be used for talks, installations, art performances. Most importantly, they encourage chance encounters as people navigate through the building.

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building

The MEET venue embeds digital technologies into physical space with an array of advanced projection systems and screens scattered across the building. This allows people to access MEET’s digital archive in unexpected ways. Drawing on the idea of “ubiquitous computing” put forward by scientist Mark Weiser, who argued that digital technology would become so pervasive that it will “recede into the background of our lives”, the project transforms architecture itself into a medium to share knowledge and culture.

MEET is hosted in a palatial building in the central Milanese neighborhood of Porta Venezia. The palace was built in the early 20th century and expanded by renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti in the late 1990s. The MEET venue as renovated by CRA and Italo Rota extends over 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) across three levels. Among other functions, it accommodates a reconfigurable auditorium and movie theater operated in collaboration with the longstanding Cineteca Italiana, a café, and an immersive hall for digital installations.

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building

MEET Milan Porta Venezia – Building Information

MEET Digital Culture Center

A project by CRA Carlo Ratti Associati

Creative consultancy: Italo Rota, Francesca Grassi

CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (Project Manager), Chiara Morandini, Valentina Grasso, Luca Giacolini, Serena Giardina, Aurora Maggio, Anna Morani, Matteo Zerbi, Aunie Frisch, Andrea Galli, Oliver Kazimir, Gerolamo Gnecchi Rusconi, Alessandro Tassinari

Execution: Studio Del Giacco

Structural design: INGEMBP

Light design: Artemide

Acoustic consultancy: Onleco

Audio-video technologies: Audviser

The Digital Culture Center is powered by Artemide and Mediatrade

With the support of Fondazione Cariplo

Pictures by: Michele Nastasi, Serena Giardina

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building


CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati is an international design and innovation practice based in Turin, Italy and New York City. Drawing on Carlo Ratti’s research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the office is currently involved in many projects across the globe, embracing every scale of intervention – from furniture to urban planning. Among recent projects, there are the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2021, the CapitaSpring skyscraper in Singapore, the curatorship of the “Eyes of the City” at the 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism of Shenzhen, the redesign of the Agnelli Foundation HQ in Turin, the masterplan for Milan Innovation District (MIND).

CRA is the only design firm whose works have been featured three times in TIME Magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year” list – respectively with the Digital Water Pavilion in 2007, the Copenhagen Wheel in 2014, and Scribit in 2019. In the last years, the office has been involved in the launch of Makr Shakr, a startup producing the world’s first robotic bar system, and Scribit, the write&erase robot.


Italo Rota (1953, Milan) is a graduate of the Polytechnic University of Milan. Upon winning the competition to design the interiors of Musée d’Orsay in the 80s, Italo Rota moved to Paris, where he worked on the renovation of the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Centre Pompidou, with Gae Aulenti; the hall of the French school at the Cour Carré of the Louvre museum; the lighting of the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the banks of the Seine river in Paris; and the renovation of the historical center of the city of Nantes.

More recently, Italo Rota has helped design the civic museums of Reggio Emilia; the new Elatech robot factory in Brembilla: the great children’s theatre in Maciachini, Milano; the new pavilion laboratory Noosphere at the Triennale di Milano; and the Expo Milano 2015 pavilions for Kuwait and for Italian Wine, as well as the Pavilion Arts and Foods. Among his more symbolic projects are the Museo del Novecento in Piazza Duomo in Milan, the headquarters of Columbia University in New York and the Hindu Temple in Dolvy in India.

He has worked on countless exhibitions in major museums, publications, installations and pavilions, including the central Pavilion for the Expo Zaragoza 2008. Italo Rota is the Scientific Director of NABA, the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan; lecturer at Shanghai Wusong International Art City Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts; and advisor at the Tsinghua University of Beijing, one of the most prestigious Chinese universities.

MEET Milan Porta Venezia building


MEET is the Italian organization that supports digital culture and creative technology. MEET was born out of Meet the Media Guru with the fundamental support of Fondazione Cariplo. The first partner is the platform of thoughts, ideas and events focused on innovation and digital technology the art critic and digital culture expert Maria Grazia Mattei founded in 2005; the second partner is one of the world’s main philanthropic organizations which aim is to help organizations to better serve their community and give ideas a future.

MEET delivers a massive plan of on life – on line and on site – activities that bring people to experience and embrace digital technology as a part of their daily life and a resource for their creativity. MEET aims to reduce Italian digital cultural divide. Other key factors are exchange, discussion and building of new projects together with several international partners, first of all the Toronto George Brown College, namely the Institute Without Boundaries specialised in multi-disciplinary and shared planning.

Designed as a social-oriented institution, MEET collects, promotes and shares creative ideas and innovative projects to reduce the digital cultural divide and guarantee an increasingly more active participation with an approach centred on meeting and inclusion. MEET’s main partner is Intesa Sanpaolo; the digital culture center is powered by Artemide and Mediatrade.


Fondazione Cariplo, one of the world’s main philanthropic organizations, manages the assets gathered over 180 years by Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde to carry on its long-standing philanthropic tradition. Fondazione Cariplo aims at operating on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, anticipating needs and fulfilling its special mission of being a resource that helps social and civil organizations better serve their community.

Since it was established in 1991, the Foundation has modernized itself to continue to pursue its philanthropic mission at best. Today, the Foundation is a modern-time organization with specific operational strategies, staffed with young, specialized personnel, equipped with the structures and the tools suitable to implement modern philanthropy initiatives, and to give ideas a future

Photos: Michele Nastasi

MEET Milan: Porta Venezia building images / information received 271020

Location: Milano, Italy

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