Portanuova in progress. A quick guide to the upcoming stars of the skyline.


Not only has Portanuova’s colossal urban regeneration project returned a historic neighbourhood to the city: it has re-opened its spaces, giving them to the community, and connected the city and our nation with the global scene through cutting-edge solutions, not only in terms of aesthetics but also from a sustainability and eco-friendliness perspective.

Portanuova – like every organism open to the world and the future – is a space that nurtures its growth by taking inspiration from the trends and vibrant rhythms of the multicultural world in which we live, but even by complying with the most stringent standards to defend its delicate ecosystem. A living space that feeds on the vibrations of the community visiting and inhabiting it every day, evolving and taking shape on the basis of its demands. In the scope of this evolution and the “openness” that distinguishes it, the District renews and reaffirms its urban fabric with the latest protagonists of its skyline. With renovations of historic office buildings and construction of the new stars in the firmament of Portanuova and its surroundings, work-in-progress is bustling. Immense toy blocks in the eyes of children, golden opportunities to comment on by the local pensioners, these developing areas leave much space to the imagination of their viewers in terms of the shape of future architectures or the engineering secrets behind them.

The memory of a district studded with construction sites for over a decade is vivid. But the result is the splendid skyline people can admire and experience today. To learn more about the progress of these monumental works, reach the District on foot, by bike, or by underground, and follow the stages of this archistar-watching experience we highly recommend. 

It lies between the new headquarters of the Lombardy Regional Office and the “Pirellone”, positioned and inclined as if to point towards the BAM. It towers the urban context not only because of its 120-m height, but for the incisive architecture that earned it the nickname “splinter”. Its original forms and its large windows envelop it to optimize sunlight, and cause the rarefied vision you will perceive at first sight. No, it is not a mirage. It is not an open-air rendering. It is Gioia 22. Your journey continues a few steps further, where two adjacent towers, the West Tower (65 m, 13 floors) and the East Tower (98 m, 24 floors) will emerge as sentinels of the dawning complex Gioia 20. Smart buildings that will boast a network of electronic devices for remote control employing IoT (Internet of Things) technology. 

About 100 m away, reach Via Giovanni Battista Pirelli and look up. You will spot a pair of strongholds of the Portanuova District’s sustainable requalification: Pirelli 35 and Pirelli 39. The former – a renovation of Milan’s business hub during the 1960s economic boom – will comprise two elements (10 and 5 floors respectively) with a new inner courtyard, and will be an endorser of the values of maximum energy efficiency, sustainability, and flexibility that the District as a whole symbolizes. The recovery of 60% of the existing building is an alternative to its full demolishment, to minimize environmental impact. Pirelli 39, instead, will be a renovation of the Pirellino, a historic building designed in the 1950s. New adjacent public spaces will create a link to the BAM - Milan Library of Trees. The skyscraper will be 26 storeys and 90 m high, and will overlook Via Melchiorre Gioia, where you may walk the 900-m promenade (the longest in town) towards Piazza Gae Aulenti and reach the much-anticipated Torre UnipolSai (125 m high). Designed by Mario Cucinella, it will tower above the main square of the District: wood, metal, and glass harmonically combined to form a vertical nest-like structure giving the complex its nickname "vertical nest". To finish your skyscraper hike from below, take the stylish Corso Como, and arrive in Via Bonnet.

You will be at the epicentre of Portanuova’s urban development. This area will host the new Corso Como Place, which will interweave the public space between the Feltrinelli foundation and Eataly, Corso Como and Piazza Gae Aulenti by means of mixed-use paths. Here, a new office tower is being erected as a renovation of the historic Pirellino (former Unilever HQ) designed in ’62. It will be 71 m tall and have 21 floors, and will soon accommodate the Italian headquarters of Accenture. It will be completed with a Podium, which will host the offices of Bending Spoons. The new Torre Bonnet aims to be the first office complex in Milan to achieve a WELL Building Institute certificate, which assesses how architectures and services positively affect people’s lives based on criteria such as space dedicated to movement and the quality of light, water, and air.

Strolling down Portanuova, you will discover not only a district “signed” by the greatest architects in the business and hosting the trendiest flagship stores.

You will acknowledge a living space, “always open” to the city and the world, in constant growth and renewal. Follow its work-in-progress: just like its predecessors, they are the sprouts of a long sowing process involving years of “commitment”; not only in terms of dedication and use of resources, but also in terms of environmental and human health. When they will finally blossom, like the other stars of Portanuova, it will be a show well-worth the wait.

Photos by Donato Di Bello -