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Bocconi Urban Campus

The City Enters the University

SANAA Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa

Bocconi Urban Campus
By Caterina Testa -

In 2011, Bocconi University located in the south of Milan called for tenders for its planned campus expansion. Continuing the tradition of engaging prestigious national and international designers - earlier buildings are by Grafton Architects, Ignazio Gardella, Giovanni Muzio, and Giuseppe Pagano - the competition winner was SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa.

The new buildings provide offices and teaching facilities for the SDA School of Management, a student residence and a sports center open to the public. Built on a large brownfield site once occupied by a milk collection, processing and distribution center, the area is not closed to the outside world but an integral part of the urban fabric.

SANAA’s buildings are located between Via Sarfatti, which flanks the other university buildings and the busy inner ring road, and Viale Toscana, which marks the boundary between central Milan and the city’s more outlying neighborhoods. The large pedestrian walkway of Via Ulisse Gobbi, perpendicular to Via Sarfatti and Viale Toscana, already used by students to move between the buildings of the campus, now continues into the new development.

The project comprises six closed, amoeba-shaped volumes. Distributed over the large park, they are connected to one another by a series of sinuous walkways that echo the buildings’ configuration. This cluster of buildings and elegant porticoed paths add another piece to the abacus-like pattern that is Milan’s urban fabric.

The program is grounded in the meticulous organization of the campus extension and its relationship with the city. The rigorous distribution of the different buildings is in keeping with both Milan’s urban texture and its scale. This particular part of town is characterized by a mix of the traditional city blocks with closed inner courtyards and a less compact, more irregular urban fabric lying south of Viale Toscana. Accordingly, Sejima and...

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