On 11th January, a talk on the office of the future took place in the headquarters of Assolombarda in Milan. At the beginning, this could seem an ambiguous issue, but then it became particularly concrete: the main subject of the talk was Welcome, feeling at work, the pioneering office complex founded on the principles of biophilia that will be built in Milan, Parco Lambro, in a couple of years thanks to the contribution of Europa Risorse and to the project of the renowned Japanese architectural firm Kengo Kuma & Associates.
The presentation of the survey ‘I nuovi luoghi di lavoro’ (The new workplaces) carried out by Nomisma was the occasion to talk about this topic. It focused on the fundamental features required by modern work environment to protect and enhance the psychophysical wellbeing of workers.
Among the most important values resulting from the research, which involved the HR managers of 10 companies and 500 workers of Milan’s metropolitan area, there is the environmental and social sustainability and thus the need to work in more and more biophilic offices, i.e. able to ensure the integration of man with nature: comfortable places where you can breathe fresh air and enjoy sunlight, offering a higher degree of satisfaction in employees and a constant increase in their performance.
The project Welcome suits perfectly this vision. The facility, which has been designed as a huge redevelopment work of a former industrial area, will include offices, auditoriums, co-working spaces, lobbies for business meetings, restaurants and lounges, shops, a supermarket, a wellness area, spaces for temporary event and exhibitions.
The fil rouge is nature, which is present in every part of the complex: the Plaza, rich in vegetation and surrounded by gentle hills; the Open air courtyard, for informal business meetings; the Terraces, with vegetable gardens, flower gardens and walkways; the Greenhouses, special work and leisure places. Permeability and accessibility are the key words, together with zero emissions, renewable energies, consumption monitoring and water recovery.
50,000 square meters of GLA in six multi-layer volumes, twisted and intersected, which gently slope like natural amphitheatres towards the Park, made of only three materials: concrete for the foundations and the basement, steel and wood for the rest. This is the formula of the biophilic office: green, simple and winning, as Yuki Ikeguchi, KKAA’s Partner, told us.
Moreover, as the Nomisma’s survey pointed out, changes in the society cannot wait: the world of work should update accordingly, especially after the acceleration imposed by the pandemic. Antonio Napoleone, President of Europa Risorse and the first supporter of the project, underlines this aspect and also talks about the speed of construction times, which is ensured by the use of innovative prefab technologies applied to sustainable materials.
Yet, there are other reasons why Welcome is destined to revolutionise the workspace paradigm as we know it. The project is so ahead of its time thanks to the contribution of Fabbrica dell’Aria, conceived by the botanist Stefano Mancuso and the PNAT research team: an air purification system for the internal spaces founded on the biological activity of plants and their healthy power. Mancuso gives us more details about this issue.
The importance of ‘Welcome, feeling at work’ as an essential model for future workspaces is sealed by the words of Kengo Kuma, the pioneer of organic architecture and a world expert in the sector of biophilic design:
“Up to now, architecture has aimed at breaking the relationship between man and nature. In the future, the role of buildings will be connecting the two worlds, as it happens in Welcome Milano, where architecture proposes new ways of working and new lifestyles.”