The masterplan of MIND – the Milan Innovation District

A combination of innovation and multidisciplinary skills for the city of the future

Resilience and flexibility for a development that will last for 99 years

Situated between Rho and Milan, MIND is a laboratory of urban innovation, emerging on the site formerly occupied by the 'ephemeral city” of Expo2015 of which the remaining traces –its two main axes, the Cardo and the Decumanus - represent its armature and legacy.

The urban configuration of MIND, developed in collaboration with LAND, takes the Decumanus as its backbone and will develop as a ‘pentagram’: a rhythm of narrow and wide lines representing the new directions of movement and defining the urbanised areas.
This rhythm will be interrupted by a system of parks that complete the new city organically as a Nature that insinuates itself between the lines of the pentagram and includes aquatic elements within its perimeter that create a harmonious contrast with the built areas. This generates a sequence of new urban spaces that unwind from the Decumanus and radiate throughout the district.

Concept: the Pentagram by MCA

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The project is based on some key elements: spaces for working and where innovation is generated; spaces for living; spaces for healthcare; and spaces for circulation, all unified by a single large-scale component- the common ground – that connects pedestrians and mobility and in particular, slow movement.

This common ground is a public space that intersects the lowest 10 metres of all the buildings and the system of public spaces that interconnect them.

It is a space for sharing, where the landscaping meets the buildings with spaces for encounters and social interaction in a new living city, and includes halls, workshops, restaurants, bars, meeting rooms, piazzas, transparencies, informal meeting places, trees, parks, sports spaces, and buildings for research and innovation.

MIND: longitudinal section East Gate by MCA

The Masterplan by MCA

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At the heart of the new development is the Parco del Cibo della Salute (the Park for Healthy Eating). The Sports and Entertainment Park is in the eastern part, and to the west is the connection to the town of Rho, in particular the new Rho-Arese Park.

A system of large public anchor projects (the Galeazzi Hospital, the Human Technopole, the new University of Milan, and the Fondazione Triulza) will be surrounded by a mix of new functions, mainly offices, laboratories, and the light industrial spaces that contain the Federated Innovation centre. Additionally there will be significant amounts of built-to-rent residential accommodation, student halls of residence, and residential care homes.

The buildings containing the spaces for work and light industrial uses are compact and flexible, whilst the residential buildings are tall and slender. Both functional types are inter-related by a zone that we define as the vertical common ground, i.e. a pause in the height of the buildings where the roofs and terraces of the spaces for work link with the common spaces of the residential parts.

Physical Assets: Common ground and shared spaces – Diagram by MCA

Comfort outdoor: Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) – Diagram by MCA

Maps of comfort pockets: Spring scenario – Diagram by MCA

Physical Assets: Public transport and high walkability – Diagram by MCA

The new district is almost entirely car-free, as a new paradigm of urban space that gives precedence to pedestrians, bicycles and slow movement, constantly seeking to dissolve the boundary between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Very high standards of sustainability are a particularly important feature of the MIND project: as a district, MIND will receive LEED certification for Cities and Communities whilst for the buildings, principles based on DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) were applied from the very earliest stages of master planning: a method that enables lifetime control and assessment of the carbon and CO2 emissions. Additionally, all the buildings will be LEED BD+C and WELL AP certified.

The Masterplan by MCA

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