CityLife: a biophilic district in the heart of Milan

in Biophilic Design

CityLife is a new district in Milan that successfully merges modern aesthetics, sustainable use of resources, comfort, livability and biophilic design.

The project – that includes office buildings, public services and a huge residential area – is ground-breaking in many ways. And it deserves a full tour!

The area

Starting with a bit of context, CityLife is located in the north-west of Milan, at approximately 2.5 km from Duomo. It comes as a redevelopment of the historic district of Milano Fiera, which is where fairs used to take place before the creation of Rho Fiera (the current venue of Salone del Mobile (opened in a new window/tab)).
Well connected to the highways, City Life is also easy to reach with public transport, including a dedicated stop of the newest metro line M5 called Tre Torri.

Plan of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

Spanning a total area of 366,000 m2, CityLife develops around three skyscrapers that have changed the skyline of Milan. It has been a massive project, and a Permanent Environmental Observatory has supervised all construction works to make sure the surrounding districts did not get too much disturbed by dust and noise.

Skyline of Milan with the addition of the Three Towers in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Libeskind Tower (opened in a new window/tab)

The project is signed by three amazing names: Zaha Hadid (opened in a new window/tab), Arata Isozaki (opened in a new window/tab) and Daniel Libeskind (opened in a new window/tab). Their words explain well the value of City Life for the city of Milan, for Italy and for the rest of Europe as well:
 

"Milan is the city that best represents the international face of Italy, comparable to London, Frankfurt and Paris. In this sense, for us, designing in Milan brings us into contact with the most modern face of Italy."

Photos of Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
From left: Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

With its 170,000 m2 public park, CityLife is the largest pedestrian area in town and one of the biggest in Europe.

Embodying the principles of biophilic design, the overall area is meant to promote a sense of belonging and safety.
This is indeed one of the main objectives of a biophilic residential area. When residents feel safe and attached to where they live, they will be more prone to spend time outdoors and interact. With time, this will create a true community of people that know and help each other.

View of the pedestrian area in CityLife, promoting a safe ambiance and creating a biophilic residential area.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

Business and shopping

The entire CityLife district develops around three business towers:

  • Allianz Tower (by Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei)
  • Generali Tower (by Zaha Hadid Architects)
  • Libeskind Tower (by Daniel Libeskind)

 
The design and technology used in these buildings are cutting-edge and the first two towers have already gained the LEED-Gold (opened in a new window/tab) pre-certification rating for their innovative and eco-friendly use of materials!

Tre Torri in Milan CityLife district.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

At the foothills of the towers is CityLife shopping district (opened in a new window/tab), the biggest urban shopping centre in Italy.

This is another beautiful example of biophilic design, that features:

 
Some tables in the seating area are also equipped with task lighting and electrical outlets, creating a great space for studying or co-working.

Outdoor view of CityLife shopping district, an example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
A closer outdoor view of CityLife shopping district, an example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab) (via Instagram (opened in a new window/tab))
Indoor view of CityLife shopping district, an example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign
Another indoor view of CityLife shopping district, an example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign. And yes, the girl you see walking in the back is me!
Indoor view of CityLife shopping district, an example of biophilic design.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab) (via Instagram (opened in a new window/tab))

Residential area

And now to the part I like the most about CityLife; the residential area!
The whole area is made of two complexes of buildings, designed by Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind.

View of the pedestrian area in CityLife, promoting a safe ambiance and creating a biophilic residential area.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
View of the pedestrian area in CityLife, promoting a safe ambiance and creating a biophilic residential area.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

Both of them have a spectacular design and the interiors feature some more biophilic design elements:

Biophilic interior design in CityLife, entrance.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Biophilic interior design in CityLife, living room.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Biophilic interior design in CityLife, bedroom.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Biophilic interior design in CityLife, lobby.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Lobby of Zaha Hadid's residence.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife, balcony.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Terrace of Daniel Libeskin's residence.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Zaha Hadid penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Zaha Hadid penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Zaha Hadid penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Zaha Hadid penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Daniel Libeskin penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Daniel Libeskin penthouse.
Biophilic interior design in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Daniel Libeskin penthouse. Credits: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

Energy efficiency is key in these residences, with solar panels installed on the roof of all buildings. CityLife is also a zero-emission neighbourhood: it doesn't use any source of combustion and water is the primary source of energy.

Public park

The residential area is surrounded by a huge park that sets such a calming atmosphere that one wouldn't even say it's Milan!

With biophilic design always in mind, the layout of the park is not perfectly flat. Besides providing visual movement, its valleys-and-hills profile creates some hidden areas that give a sense of refuge and are the perfect spot to rest in nature.

One area of the park is even devoted to gardens, with various flowers, fruits and vegetables!

Biophilic park in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Biophilic park in CityLife, by night.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DforDesign
Garden in CityLife park.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Render of CityLife Gardens. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

In the middle of the park is BabyLife (design by 02Arch (opened in a new window/tab)), a great example of biophilic nursery featuring:

  • wood external structure and internal finishes
  • full-height windows for maximum natural light
  • outdoor view onto nature created with an internal garden
  • tree-shaped wood panelling
BabyLife, a biophilic nursery in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
BabyLife, a biophilic nursery in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
BabyLife, a biophilic nursery in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
BabyLife, a biophilic nursery in CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

To make CityLife even more of a discovery, the park is also punctuated by contemporary art installations.

Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Hand and foot for Milan by Judith Hopf. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Cieli di Belloveso by Matteo Rubbi. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Vedovelle e draghi verdi by Serena Vestrucci. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Filamone e bauci by Ornaghi & Prestinari. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Daily Desiderio by Riccardo Benassi. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)
Art installation in the park of CityLife.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Coloris by Pascale Marthine Tayou. Credit: CityLife (opened in a new window/tab)

Overall, City Life is a forward-looking district that takes advantage of biophilic design and energy-efficiency technologies to create an area that benefits people and the environment at the same time!

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