The Polytechnic University of Milan is the oldest university of the city, and is also the largest technical university in Italy specialized in Engineering, Architecture, and Design. Founded in 1863, it has two main campuses in Milan where the majority of the research and teaching activity are located, and other satellite campuses in cities like Como, Piacenza, and Lecco.
These two campuses are very contradictory in terms of urban design and architecture. On one side, the Leonardo Campus represents the historical roots of Politecnico. The first buildings were inaugurated in 1927. Over time, the physical campus area has expanded, creating an educational neighborhood known as “Città Studi.” The other campus, called Bovisa, has been active since 1989, and is located in an ex-industrial area north of the city center. Leonardo is characterized by historical buildings, and is strongly connected and integrated within the city patterns through easily accessible transportation networks. Even if its organization is not delimited by a visible barrier, the campus provides a welcoming structure due to its green areas and lively atmosphere.
On the other hand, Bovisa is isolated both from the design layout of the city and from an accessibility point of view. The latter is related to the presence of the rail infrastructure, which acts like a physical barrier between the campus and the rest of the neighborhood. Despite this segregation, its architectural style is defined by modern buildings and technology. Most of the factories located here before 1950 were taken apart, and their remains as industrial structures have become a distinctive feature of the area. The Architecture faculty itself has its offices in a remodeled building; and in 2006, a new headquarters of the Triennale Design and Art Museum was established as a symbol of modern art.
Even if Bovisa represents “the new campus” and should be a step forward in providing a better quality of design and space organization, students state that they still prefer the historical aspect of Leonardo more.
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Credits: Photographs by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.