In 1968, Oscar Niemeyer was traveling in Europe: Giorgio Mondadori, at the helm of the publishing house established by his father Arnoldo in 1907, took advantage of this and met with the famous architect and entrusted him with the project of designing the new premises of the publishing house, aiming at a “spectacular” architecture. The expansion and development of the company after 1950, in fact, required an expansion of the workspace and the editorial offices, since the buildings in Via Bianca di Savoia were insufficient.
The architect designed two alternative solutions, both inspired by his recent experience with Brasilia: after the analysis and discussion with Mondadori, the second option was selected.
Giorgio Mondadori wanted the new complex to meet a highly functional and technological articulation and, at the same time, to have great aesthetic impact, a celebratory monument of the prestigious publishing house, a workplace, but also a place of creativity and culture.
Strongly inspired by the premises of the Ministry of External Affairs in Brasilia, designed by Niemeyer between 1962 and 1964 and indicated by Mondadori as the model to be emulated, the Segrate building is different in size and layout and structural definition.
In Segrate the longitudinal buildingprocess made possible the implementation of a structural system where the reinforced concrete frame supports the five hanging office floors.
For the lowrise buildings reserved for editorial offices and services, Niemeyer proposed an irregular and undulating layout that is reminiscent of the shape of a leaf, which is made even more charming by the presence of the artificial pond in front of the building.
The pond, with its surface of 20,000 square meters, reflects the entire building and the huge green area surrounding it (190,000 square meters): a veritable park, made after Pietro Porcinai’s design, which includes meadows and thickets of cypresses, poplars and plane trees.
On the right side of the lake, Arnaldo Pomodoro’s sculpture ‘Column with large sheets’ rises from the water near the access walkway.
The lake, in addition to enhancing the monumental aspect of the building, performs some purely technological functions, since it gets water from the air-conditioning systems.
The working spaces were painstakingly studied by the designer, who wanted at all costs to avoid the risk of creating impersonal, cold and undifferentiated places. This problem was overcome by introducing a range of colors that articulates the sequence of rooms, passing from warm colors to bright effects. In this play of colors, lighting plays a major role and is studied to enhance or soften, according to the case, the chromatic effect selected for each room. Light in the offices is soft and consistent thanks to the use of an open false ceiling, formed by pre-painted white aluminum slats arranged to form a perpendicular grid. The false ceiling is useful to conceal all sound damping elements, electrical and air-conditioning systems.
The internal layout results in an extremely flexible space, which can be subdivided in ever-changing ways through moving devices.
The windows are made of an external bronze pane and an internal clear pane, with a dry air chamber in the middle. This solution makes it possible to combine safety requirements, thermal control and the option to enjoy the view of nature outside: an attempt to cancel the separation between inside and outside.
The expansion of the Mondadori premises was opened in June 2007: architect Werner Tscholl’s project includes the full renovation of the Cascina Tregarezzo and the addition of two new units to the original building.
How to get there:
Overground line 73, S. Felicino-Linate airport-Milano; passante Ferroviario S5; q14_h440 line, Limito FFS-Rodano- Linate airport; Caronte-Pollicino line (Linate airport-Segrate)
By car: A51 (tangenziale est), Provincial Road SP14, Provincial Road SP15/b
Modern architecture in the surrounding areas:
Segrate Town hall; Milano San Felice district; Progetto Malspina
Lionello Luppi, Guida a Niemeyer, A. Mondadori, Milano 1987
Roberto Dulio, Il Palazzo Mondadori, Electa, Milano 2007
Roberto Dulio, Oscar Niemeyer e la Mondadori a Segrate, in Casabella n. 753, 2007
Casabella n. 424, 1977