Construction Starts on 'Biophilic Office of the Future'

John Hill
15. March 2021
Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Construction has begun on "Welcome, feeling at work," the office building in Milan's Parco Lambro district designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates for Europa Risorse.

Although construction is starting on the 50,000-m2 project at what is hopefully the tail end of the pandemic, the project was commissioned by Europa Risorse, an independent real estate company, before the coronavirus forced people to work from home and made architects and clients ponder the future of office spaces. By already focusing on "combining individual wellness and [a] green building solution," per a press release announcing the construction start, the project sounds like a relevant approach to post-pandemic workspace design.

Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Echoing the building's alignment with a "post-Covid culture," Europa Risorse chairman Antonio Napoleone said in the announcement: "Making people’s workdays more pleasant is one of the worthiest goals achieved by this project: natural light, noise mitigation, encouragement of movement, healthy eating, large inside and outside areas for work meetings, easy circulation, and lots of other people-focused details."

Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Not surprisingly, wood is the material of choice in Kengo Kuma & Associates' design for Welcome, feeling at work. It picks up on both the acknowledged impact the material has on the well-being of occupants — aka biophilia — and the Japanese architect's preference for the material, used in everything from the recently completed Meiji Jingu Museum to the National Stadium that will be the centerpiece of this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Yuki Ikeguchi, partner in charge of the project at Kuma's office, described the project's positive aspects: "Biophilic architecture: living with, and in nature. Welcome, feeling at work, is designed with organic, natural elements that appeals to our senses and tendency to find comfort and inspiration to the natural settings." A focus on natural elements — green, light, air, and timber — is intended to "appeal to human senses make a difference in workplace, living culture for better mental, physical states, creativity, and productivity."

Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

Located in a previously abandoned industrial area, the building will contain a mix of uses when it is done in a few years: offices and co-working spaces, auditoriums, restaurants and lounges, a supermarket, a wellness area, and exhibition spaces. Open spaces include a piazza, courtyards, and terraces, all of them apparent in the renderings shown here. The stepped building — "sloping down like natural amphitheaters" — will be framed in steel and wood above a concrete foundation and basement. Construction is expected to be completed in 2024.

Visualization © Kengo Kuma and Associates

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