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This abandoned site in Milan will be transformed into a vertical forest

Tim Gibson

04 February 2021

NEW YORK-based studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS + R) and Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti have won an international competition to regenerate the derelict former Pirellino building in Milan.

The firms’ winning design for the Pirelli 39 development includes recovering the existing building on site while constructing a new residential vertical forest and bridge.

The existing Pirellino building will undergo a series of renovations to meet Next Generation EU parameters.

This will include ensuring its sustainability and structural integrity while preserving the building's original character.

Above: The new vertical forest residential tower will link with the existing structure on site. Image courtesy of DS + R and firm Stefano Boeri Architetti.

The new residential tower, to be constructed next door, will be covered in 1,700 square metres of vegetation, effectively absorbing 14 tonnes of CO2 a year while producing nine tonnes of oxygen.

The tower will also have 2,770 square meters of photovoltaic panels, allowing it to self-produce 65 percent of its energy needs.

With 1,800 cubic meters of wood used for the floors and wood used in other structural parts of the building, more than 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be saved during the construction process - greatly lowering the building’s carbon footprint.

A bridge will connect these two structures and include spaces for events, shows and exhibitions while also providing a biodiverse greenhouse and dedicated educational laboratory to showcase various plant species.

Above: A bridge building will house public exhibition spaces. Image courtesy of DS + R and firm Stefano Boeri Architetti.

“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,” Stefano Boeri, Founder of Stefano Boeri Architetti, said in a press release.

“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.”

Boeri has pioneered the concept of the vertical forest with his most famous previous work being another residential complex in Milan.

Those towers won both the International Highrise Award from the Deutschen Architekturmuseums in Frankfurt in 2014 and the CTBUH Award for the best tall building in the world in 2015.

Boeri has since proposed similar concepts in Tirana, Treviso, and Cairo.

At a cost of USD $300M, Pirelli 39 is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs.

Header image courtesy of DS + R and firm Stefano Boeri Architetti.


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