November 13 2013

One Univeristy, Two Differently Designed Campuses in Milan, Italy

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.

Leonardo Campus, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

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.

Bovisa Campus, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

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.

In your opinion, what are the crucial elements in planning a university campus?

Credits: Photographs by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.

Alexandra Serbana

Because of her strong background in Urban Planning and Design, from her bachelor’s at “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra decided to pursue planning from the perspective of policy and decision-making. She is passionate about traveling and experimenting with new cities, and moved to Milan, Italy where she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design at Politecnico di Milano. The experience of working and living in the multicultural city of Milan has sparked her interest in the reaction of urban places to new real-estate developments, as well as conflict resolution for urban design projects that reorganize urban city life. She hopes to make an improvement on the way cities deal with physical urban changes and their effect on the quality of social and environmental life.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 9:20 am and is filed under Architecture, Environment, Environmental Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “One Univeristy, Two Differently Designed Campuses in Milan, Italy”

  1. Tal Says:

    Interesting post! though I must say that although Bovisa Campus is “architecturally different” it does have a great potential in stitching the urban fabric. As an area between two main train station it offers a public space that is open to all and enables 15 minutes walking between the two landmarks, there are also future plans to develop this public space toward expo 2015. Indeed, it doesn’t have the charm of the old fabric in Leonardo but considering ‘urban elements’ I believe that it creates a new layer that integrates and connects the city through an urban hole.

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