The project of the Belvedere on the Pirelli Skyscraper in Milan is part of the so called program "AMATE L'ARCHITETTURA" to preserve and renovate the historical and monumental real estate assets of the Region Lombardy.
Following the philological restoration of the building after the tragic airplane accident in April 2002 the realization of a "piazza alta" at the 31st floor of the Palazzo configure the original vision of Giò Ponti of a public viewing platform, a piazza in the sky. It was his way of giving back to the city the ground space stolen by the skyscraper's footprint.
The building meets the sky at the Belvedere level and its crystal monolithic appearance dissolves.
The Modern Monument
The Pirelli Skyscraper, beyond being a landmark of Milan and the icon of the Italian skyscrapers, resembles the economic boom of the 50s in Italy and the climax of the Italian Architecture after the Second World War.
It is a modern monument, design by Giò Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi, and the result of the perfect balance between form and function. It defines the urban environment of the Central Station Square.
"In the Pirelli skyscraper we looked for true forms and every element corresponds to its technical, functional, constructional, substantial reality: architecture is the form of a substance" (Giò Ponti).
In this research for exactness and functionality, detailing assume a relevant importance. The artistic vocation of the building is visible in the ceramic tiles coverings, on the flooring textures, on the concrete moulding, etc.
The privilege of knowledge
Each design process starts from a knowledge phase: the topic, the client, the site. In this case also the monument and the architect.
It has been a privilege to enter the building, to visit it, to walk through it, to feel it; to discuss the genesis of the original project with Egidio Dell'Orto, member of the Giò Ponti's design team, to study it, to understand the structure and plan logic, to contemplate the detailing elegance.
These are the basis of the new project and from these inputs came each design decision: as first the vocation of the space as an open Belvedere.
The privilege of knowledge becomes public, the 31st floor of the Pirelli Skyscraper is donated to the city and becomes a sensible urban site.
The 31st floor is a double height open space wrapped by natural light coming from the east west glass facade.
The powerful concrete structure together with light gives the space a sacral aura. It is a sort of laic nave.
The technical volume of the elevators' machines interferes in such a fluent site. In the original status the nucleus was clad with ceramic tiles like all others technical volumes giving to the floor the character of a left over space.
Belvedere: Design process
The design process is primarily a de-materialization process. The building material is light.
The project generates from emotional feelings more than functional requirements. To reconfigure the unity of the nave the elevators' nucleus is wrapped by a glass skin reversing inside-out the total height glass façade. The interferent opaque volume is made lucent.
Belvedere: Design meanings
The goal of creating a fluid space together with its dematerialization lead to realize a POD in white glass (in depth white to perceive the glass materiality) wrapping the technical volume.
Searching for lightness the POD is totally detached from the existing structure. Such material and formal independence exalts the muscular mass of the concrete structure and its static generated profiles in contrast with the fragile glass skin.
Everything else refers to Giò Ponti's visions: on the ceramic flooring, on the textures, on the clarity of the design decisions.
Belvedere: Functional program
The Belvedere is a public square to be exploited in a number of different ways. It serves as a space to stage itinerant exhibitions, conferences, concerts and so on. It also plays an institutional role as a venue for local government events and official meetings.
The Belvedere offers a privileged direct and virtual view over the city and its changing process (walkable monitors connected via web display live images of in progress sites).