International design and innovation practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has worked with Australian real estate group Lendlease to develop the schematic design for the University of Milan’s new Science Campus, Science for Citizens. The design proposes a rethink of the traditional university court or cloister, with maker spaces and parametric brick facades assembled by robots. The new Campus will be located within MIND (Milan Innovation District), the innovation park under development on the former site of Milan’s 2015 World Expo – also based on a general master plan by CRA. In the framework of a public-private partnership scheme, the project sets the basis for a tender dealing with the project financing, which will open in fall 2018.
The design responds to the decision by Milan’s largest university to move its scientific disciplines to a new campus – from the Città Studi area in eastern Milan to MIND. The project puts forward a vision for an open campus that becomes a testing ground for innovative methods for education, while fostering exchanges between the university and the surrounding neighborhood. The Science Campus will host over 18,000 students and almost 2,000 researchers.
“The modern university campus was developed in Italy around the year 1000. Its principles have kept informing the design of higher education spaces for over a millennium now – from the Oxbridge colleges to the French Grandes Ecoles to the contemporary American campuses,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “However, today MOOCs, learning by making, continuous education and so on demand a fundamental rethinking of the architecture of the university – fostering more interactions both inside the community and outside it (“town and gown”). This challenge is what inspired us in developing the design for the new campus for one of the world’s greatest universities.”
The project by CRA, extending over an area of more than 150,000 square meters (1.6 million square feet), is based on some fundamental principles, like the courts, the parametric bricks, the idea of a common ground and open university and the harmony between city and nature.
In late July 2018, the Board of Directors of the University approved Lendlease’s proposal for a public-private partnership for the construction of the Campus. The Lendlease project provides a concession for the construction and management of campus services for the next 30 years. The next step is the preparation of the tender for the actual development of the Campus.
The Science for Citizens Campus will be located within MIND, whose master plan was also designed by CRA and first presented in November 2017, when Lendlease won the international competition held by public company Arexpo to build an innovation district on the former area of 2015 Milan World Expo. MIND extends on a surface of 1 million square meters (10 million square feet), and it will feature a one-mile long linear park and the first neighborhood planned for self-driving vehicles, applying the “common ground” principle to the entire area.