Porta Volta Fondazione Feltrinelli
by Herzog & de Meuron



Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have unveiled plans for a new headquarters for the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli in Milan.

Called Porta Volta Fondazione Feltrinelli, the project will be located to the north of the city centre and will house the foundation, dedicated to the history of ideas, alongside cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Two of the three long narrow buildings will be separated by a small gap, while the third will stand at an angle on the other side of the site to create a gateway through the new park.

Construction is due for completion in 2013.

Images © Herzog & de Meuron

Here's some more information from the architects:

Porta Volta Fondazione Feltrinelli

Strengthening and Reinforcing the City

As part of the redefinition of the area Porta Volta, Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli intends to relocate its seat to the northern centre of Milan, which the Feltrinelli Group considers as an ideal environment for the foundation’s multiple activities. The overall masterplan for Porta Volta, consisting of the Fondazione, two new office buildings, and a generous green area, holds an important strategic potential for creating a positive impact on the surrounding area. This undertaking by the Feltrinelli Group has an important urban dimension in that it strengthens and reinforces the city.

A Site Steeped in History

The historical analysis of the site drove the evolution of the design proposal. The urban organisation of Porta Volta traces back to the course of the Mura Spagnole, the ancient 15th century city walls which were the last of a series of fortifications which since Roman times have defined the city’s growing boundaries. After the opening of the bastion in the late 19th century, Via Alessandro Volta laid the basis for the city’s extension outside the ancient walls, connecting as a new, prominent urban axis the historical centre with Cimitero Monumentale. Today, the emptiness of the site is a testament to the walls and, at the same time, reminds one of the destructions this area has suffered during the Second World War.

A Gate as Point of Reference within the City

Together with a series of preserved gates, the two Caselli Daziari di Porta Volta offer an important reference point within the Milanese city plan. The allocation of Edificio Feltrinelli and the Fondazione along Viale Pasubio and the allocation of Edificio Comune along Viale Montello opposite the axis Via Alessandro Volta underline this historical gate, taking up the Milanese tradition of twin buildings as in Piazza Duomo, Piemonte or Duca D’Aosta.

Besides the preservation of the Mura Spagnole’s archaeological remains, the concentration of building mass endeavours to create a generous public green area as extensions of the existing boulevards. On the street level, the new edifices will house cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering an area for interaction and recreation to the citizens.

DezeenTV: Porta Volta Fondazione Feltrinelli by Herzog & de Meuron


Click to play the movie about the project

A House for the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli

A narrow gap separates the Fondazione from Edifico Feltrinelli, reflecting two autonomous constructions which are simultaneously part of an overall whole. The ground floor of the Fondazione accommodates the main entrance, cafeteria and book store, followed by the double height multi-functional space on the first floor, and an office area on the second floor. The reading room on top of the Fondazione offers researchers and interested public the opportunity to study documents from the historical collection stored in the secure underground archive.

A Milanese Project: Scale, Structure and Repetition

The new buildings are inspired by the simplicity and generous scale of historic Milanese architecture as Ospedale Maggiore, Rotonda della Besana, Lazaretto and Castello Forzesco. They are also inspired by the long, linear Cascina buildings of traditional rural architecture in Lombardy, which already were an important reference in Aldo Rossi’s work, for instance his residential building Gallaratese.

This is why we propose an elongated and narrow architecture which in a vaguely figurative way introduces a roof which melts into the facades. The structure expresses the geometrical conditions of the site in a rotation of its members and balances between transparency and spatial definition. Façade, structure and space form an integrated whole.

The redefinition of Porta Volta will intrinsically be a Milanese Project, taking up themes of Milanese urbanism and architecture, which through the course of history have led to a series of emblematic buildings for which the City of Milan is renowned.

Address: Viale Pasubio, Milan, Italy

Project Phases
Concept Design: 2008
Schematic Design: 2008 - 2009
Design Development: 2009 - 2010
Construction Documents: 2010
Construction: 2011 - 2013
Ground-breaking: 2011
Opening: 2013

Project Team
Partner: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Stefan Marbach
Project Architect: Andreas Fries (Associate), Mateo Mori Meana
Project Team: Liliana Amorim Rocha, Nils Büchel, Claudius Frühauf, Monica Leung, Adriana Müller, Carlos Viladoms

Feltrinelli, Milan, Italy

Partner Architect: SD Partners, Milan, Italy

Structure: Zaring, Milan, Italy

M.E.P: Polistudio, Riccione, Italy


Site Area Total: 17,268 m_

Usable Floor Area
Edificio Feltrinelli: 7’564 m_
Edificio Fondazione: 2’418 m_
Edificio Comune: 3’035 m_
Total: 13’017 m_

Facade Surface Area
Edificio Feltrinelli: 9’670 m_
Edificio Fondazione: 4’170 m_
Edificio Comune: 2’670 m_
Total: 16’510 m_

Public Green Area
Total: 12’162 m_

Edificio Feltrinelli: Commercial, Offices
Edificio Fondazione: Cafeteria, Bookshop, Multi-functional Space, Offices, Reading Room, Archives, Parking
Edificio Comune: Commercial, Offices

Posted on Monday March 15th 2010 at 3:29 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • scetchy

    Love it!! HdM is still the best

  • g1


  • just the kind of project that city needs!

  • andy

    solar gain?

  • Francesco

    mhhhh don’t like it

  • wasps

    ill have a stab

    end elevations as shown in shot 1 and 3 look dated and undesirable whereas as photo 6 and final shot look more promising, admire the apparant simplicity works well with the green

    thats all i got

  • Balkan

    great video:)!!!!

  • gytis

    looks too big for the place, too monotonic, though the concept is strong

  • Svenia


  • christian

    I do like it but it has a rather brutalist like feel to it.

  • DWR

    Milan needs something else…

  • LEO

    would anyone still think this project was cool if HdM didn’t design it?

  • bb Boza

    animation explains everything. milan alive.
    well done HdM & crew!

  • edc

    slightly reminiscent of Robert Venturi’s Franklin Court… looks like another entry in their ur-house collection…

  • Richie

    It looks like a design from the 60s or 70s.. I sort of admire the rigour though. Maybe it’d look better with a less strong expression of the horizontal shading elements. I’ll trust that H&dM know what they’re doing on this one and look forward to the built project.

  • mini crasher

    really like the video.. the project… it’… ok.. i guess

  • I Can Has Cheeseburger

    I get excited everything I see something by them. Such simple design yet ever so intersting and pleasing to the eyes!! Well done HdeM.

  • angry catalan

    It’s pretty decent. A bit cartoonish in its use of a typical shape but that’s not a first for H&dM… maybe it’s not too fascinating but it’s solid, unlike what they built in Barcelona which is the exact opposite: an interesting turd. Also, it’s much more sober than what they’ve been doing as of lately so that’s an interesting development. At any rate H&dM, even if their current projects are not as good as they used to be, are very professional and they never HARM the city, which is something most Pritzker prices can’t say.

    Short version: decent, looks like a step in the good direction, looking forward to a more defined version.

  • Bopper3000

    Yea the graphics, video and presentation is much better than the project itself! I like the building at night, when it is emitting light, but during the day it is too dull, colourless and lifeless!

  • gozzillo

    This buidings are metaphysicals and monotonous. Milan is metaphysical and monotone. Maybe Milan needs something super-meta-metaphysical , something boring and funny at the same time, something that help the observer to forget what he is viewing and to remember where he’s going, ready to start a new day . Nice project .

  • TK

    Re: LEO

    yeah, it is cool no matter who did it…

    LEO Says:
    March 16th, 2010 at 4:26 am
    would anyone still think this project was cool if HdM didn’t design it?

  • this project is pretty good.

    I like the rhythm they made to the exterior.

  • mil

    At least looks rational than other H&M proyects. I feel some conection with the first proyects of the firm more architecture and urbanism than luxury.

  • Japr

    I wish milan was as clean as the rendered movie, but that area is so straight. nowadays not even the traffic fits, let’s see with this building fixed on it. there’s so much to do in the so called suburbs… Opponents(mondadori)foresaw this so many decades back having Niemeyer doing the project for their headquarters. Let’s hope it works without paying the price of having the public(mainly students I guess) having to live in the suburbs due to the rise of prices in the nearby by then. H&dM, yes, fine, the best around so far.
    by the way, where’s the circus gonna go?

  • To everyone who said the project is monotonous… did you forget what it is like to travel for a while along an old city wall? Yes it’s a similar repetitive feeling. But to me that’s the point of the project, to make a sense of containment for the green space, yet create a porous type of fortification that allows a visual transfer through the building. What at first seems like an another “ugly” building is actually (for me) a very refreshing take on a medieval idea. Imagine what it would be like to occupy the upper floors, and to take a walk all the way down the length at that height… Very interesting direction, and I hope they keep making people question architecture.

    Also, I agree with Angry Catalan — they never seem to HARM the city…

  • leo

    was it order by mussolini ???

  • live from Gazunga

    That cavity between the buildings is illegal and outlaw! We are not living in the medieval era !

  • Fan of the Louvre?

    OMG the building is stark and lifeless… Looks like Milan made the same mistake as Paris
    Architects and their oversized egos should pull their heads in and respond to the context of the site appropriately… really, is that the best we can do? Concrete and glass! I know we should use coloured concrete to jazz it up (that’s sarcasm, I’ll spell it out coz they obviously can’t interpret anything)

    The landscaping is nice of course… trees in the city, can’t go wrong… but the backdrop OMG!!! Is it even reminiscent of the remains it is protecting?

    Ah who cares, it’s only your money

  • live from Gazunga

    and the two little buildings , called ”the two Caselli Daziari di Porta Volta” ? These are historicals parts of the city… they will be DESTROYED , damaged FOREVER!!! this project don’t have respect for the city, for the citizens, for the history, for the context,for the observers, IT’S ALL TO BE REVISED AT LEAST 40 TIMES !!!! It’ s a violence

  • Luca

    leo: was it order by mussolini ???

    Glib, ignorant and misspelled. You would do well to read about the publishing history of Feltrinelli before your next posting.

  • leo

    Luca Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 11:40 am
    leo: was it order by mussolini ???

    Glib, ignorant and misspelled. You would do well to read about the publishing history of Feltrinelli before your next posting.

    Sorry Luca, Ididn’t know that it was order by Stalin !!!
    Same kind of architecture… he he

  • L.W.

    A stoa of ideas and a place of air…beautiful
    @Japr…interesting planning consequences similar to the 1965 Schema Directeur for Paris…one among several catalysts that provoked the
    Beaux-Arts revolt in 1968.

  • algabus

    this project has no soul. it’s a fabulous techy container.

  • Jetwax

    Bellissima! Wonderful harmony d;-)

  • B

    I find it boring, and not in a good way. Actually, I think I find H&dM quite often boring. They have some spectacular works, but generally they are a bit boring. Boring isn’t bad, but in a lot of cases not very good either. You can have spectacle by being boring.
    These images don’t show me the spectacle. They show me a gray city moment.

  • SillyBug

    Milan is ugly enough without this.

  • francesca

    I can’t believe they’re going to annihilate the Giardini Ingegnoli which is one of the poetic and storical garden of the city…so sad about this and I don’t even like the architecture. Green is the looser in Milan.

  • jules

    great project in aldo rossi tradition