San Donato Milanese (Milan), 17 January 2013 – The exhibition "Un Nuovo Segno +" (New Signal +, free entrance, open until 24 February, 2013) opens tomorrow at 5:00 pm at Cascina Roma, in San Donato Milanese. The show will exhibit the 10 finalist projects of the International Competition for the concept design of the new Eni business centre in Metanopoli, won by the team lead by Morphosis Architects. The project was launched in 2010, and centred on the creation of a new architectural complex in San Donato Milanese integrating landscape, architecture and urban territory and adopting the most advanced sustainability criteria.
Metanopoli is one of the leading examples of organic architecture in Italy, and as such the new centre has been conceived in line with modern landscape design principles. The metamorphic, fluid architecture of Morphosis Architects plays on this idea, elaborating it and bringing it up to date in every detail, so as to create a fully-fledged landscape structure. The new building will leave a mark on the area of San Donato, and will represent a "new signal" for the district of Metanopoli, fitting in with the areas' existing landmarks.
The new Eni business centre will be completed by 2015 and will include 60,000 sq m of offices hosting 3,500 people, a conference hall for 360 guests, a library and a company restaurant. The project for the new offices in San Donato Milanese was awarded, through an international competition, to the Californian Morphosis Architects. Morphosis was established in 1972 by Thom Mayne, born in 1944, winner of the Pritzker prize (the Nobel Prize of Architecture) and one of the founders of Sci-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Mayne's design for the Eni business centre, presented in 2012 at an exhibition organised at the Milan Triennale, "pays tribute to the richness of the Earth, rendered through a play of buildings and squares placed on various levels, just like the Earth's tectonic plates". The result is a horizontal architecture with no express geometrical order: a metamorphic architecture, a fluid and dynamic continuum, which represents the transformation of matter into energy.
All ten of the finalist designs for the project in San Donato Milanese bring architecture together with Eni's three fundamental principles: the individual, the community and the environment. In Mayne's project, the individual and the community are core elements: the square becomes the symbolic and functional heart of the new business centre, while the business towers lose their self reference, originating a horizontal and democratic architecture. The buildings, therefore, will not be skyscrapers, but rather four intercommunicating towers with no right angles, measuring a maximum of 45 metres in height.
The new headquarters will be located in "De Gasperi East", an urban redevelopment site where Eni first settled and whose demolition has already begun. Thanks to the continue constructive dialogue with the governmental agency for Environmental and Architectural Heritage, the entrance to the former industrial complex, designed in 1953 by Bacigalupo and Ratti, will not only become the main access to the new Management Centre, but will also serve as a reminder of the building's pre-existence and act as an element of dialogue with the new structure. The axis distribution and core composition of the complex, strengthened by the "great court", will be maintained and valued through a complete preservation of the left side of the portico body, the platform roof and other pre-existing areas.
Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis Architect and head of the team that won the competition, will speak at the opening night of the exhibition, on 12 February 2013 at 6:00 pm.