University of Milan New Science Campus Building, UNIMI Design, Carlo Ratti Italian Architecture Images

University of Milan New Science Campus Design

18 Dec 2020

New University Campus in Milan building design

Design: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

Location: MIND-Milano Innovation District, Milan, Italy

University of Milan New Science Campus

A University Campus, Reimagined

International design and innovation practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and a team led by Australian real estate group Lendlease have won the international competition to design the University of Milan’s new science campus. Located in the MIND-Milano Innovation District, a 1-million-square-meter (10 million square feet) innovation park whose masterplan was also developed by CRA, the new campus is set to open in 2025.

The campus will extend over 190,000 square meters (2 million square feet) and will serve approximately 23,000 researchers and students specializing in natural and formal sciences at the University of Milan. The design, developed by CRA in collaboration with architect Italo Rota, revolves around a network of green courtyards, a series of uninterrupted walking paths (“common ground”) at different heights, and five brick buildings. It also features a large central square with an adjacent lake.

University of Milan New Science Campus

The buildings pay tribute to the Ca’ Granda, the 15th-century brick building designed by the Renaissance architect Filarete, which today hosts the central seat of the University of Milan. The facades have been designed with an innovative construction technique, with each brick individually positioned by a robotic arm and treated as a pixel within a large-scale bas-relief. The result will be a three-dimensional tapestry with textual and visual content.

The project’s main typological features – the courtyards and the “common ground” – are also inspired by the Ca’ Granda, which was the closest realization of Filarete’s vision for a utopian city that he called Sforzinda. The “Campus 2.0” reinterprets Filarete’s design principles, albeit with 21st-century digital technologies and new approaches to teaching and learning.

University of Milan New Science Campus

“Recent data analyses of human interaction on academic campuses have shown that there is a direct correlation between the physical proximity of researchers and scientific output,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “In other words, human interaction is an essential component of the discovery process. The recent pandemic, which forced scholars to live and work for months on end in isolation, only reinforced the importance of physical space. Our ‘Campus 2.0’ design elaborates on Filarete’s thinking from almost 500 years ago to create a testing ground that will promote interaction among diverse communities.”

“Filarete’s utopia is often visualized with the eight-pointed star shape of Sforzinda, his ideal city. However, if you zoom in and take a closer look at the design, you can appreciate other compelling features,” says architect Italo Rota, the project’s creative consultant. “Filarete thought that architecture should focus on durability, simplicity, and affordable technical sophistication.

He wanted his buildings to become the backdrop of a new humanism, blurring the boundaries between private and public spaces. At the new Campus in Milan, we strive to realize Filarete’s utopia, on the very site where six years ago, millions of people from all over the world met for the World Expo.”

University of Milan New Science Campus building design, Carlo Ratti

One of the project’s defining features is the “Common Ground”, a public space that winds its way across the Campus. This uninterrupted set of walkways and crossings connect the buildings and meanders across courtyards. The “Common Ground” allows people to walk outdoors all year long – under a canopy or portico – over a length of more than 1,200 meters (4,000 feet).

The path continues inside the buildings, with an additional 800 meters (2,700 feet) of accessible walkways at the mezzanine level. The “Common Ground” serves to reinforce the connection between the Campus and the surrounding MIND neighborhood, fostering interaction between the academic community, and the companies and R&D centers that operate in the innovation district.

The campus also features almost 100,000 square meters (1 million square feet) of greenery, including terraces and hypogeum gardens located below the ground level. Each of the five courtyards will showcase a different landscape from Northern Italy, while the central square and lake can accommodate large events.


UNIMI Design – Building Information

The project of the new campus for the science faculties of the University of Milan is located within the MIND-Milan Innovation District in the site where Expo 2015 was held.
CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati produced the overall architectural concept for the real estate group Lendlease, and a task force whose member companies include:-

Starching S.r.l. (Architectural Project), Manens-Tifs S.p.A. (Gardening Project), Redesco Progetti S.r.l (Structural Project), Emilio Pizzi Team Architects S.r.l. (Space Planning), Dr. Geol. Pietro Simone (Geological Report).
Architectural concept: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
Creative Consultancy: Italo Rota
CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (Project Manager), Saverio Panata, Matteo Zerbi, Chiara Morandini, Anna Morani, Nicola Scaramuzza, Mario Daudo, Jacopo Reale, Oliver Kazmir, Alessandro Tassinari, Samuel Colle Dominguez, Federico Riches, Andrea Giordano

Renderings by CRA Graphic Team: Gary di Silvio, Pasquale Milieri, Gianluca Zimbardi

UNIMI University of Milan New Science Campus by Carlo Ratti

CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

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 designs, there are the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020, the CapitaSpring skyscraper in Singapore, the MEET Digital Arts Center in Milan, 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. In March 2019, CRA initiated CURA pods (Connected Units of Respiratory Ailments), a global open-source initiative aimed to convert shipping containers into plug-in Intensive-Care Units for COVID-19 patients.

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.


Lendlease is a leading international property and infrastructure group with operations in four key regions – Australia, Asia, Americas and Europe. Founded in Australia in the 1950s and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, the group has more than 12,000 employees worldwide.

Lendlease is a world leader in delivering end-to-end property solutions and builds a fully integrated model based on four core strengths: development, construction, infrastructure, fund management and asset management. The vision of Lendlease is to create the best places, through the development of large, complex, mixed-used regeneration schemes, the enhancement of partnerships with the public and private sector and the natural targeting of long-duration projects.

Therefore, the company’s fully integrated capability underpins the taking-over of projects from cradle to grave, deriving value throughout the property value chain.

University of Milan New Science Campus building images / information received 181220 from CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

Location: Milano, Italy

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