BASE Milano is a multifunctional centre in the heart of the Tortona district in Milan, that stimulates social innovation by cross-pollinating the arts with companies and technology.
BASE is a community of people who operate in various creative areas to produce culture and promote inclusion, interaction and innovation. It exists to generate new reflections for cities, establish new connections between different people, arts, disciplines and languages, and boost Milan’s status as one of the great capitals of creative production.
Opened in 2016, it now offers 12,000 sqm on 3 floors, over 200 resident creative enterprises, and more than 400 events and 500,000 visitors a year.
Located in the former Ansaldo industrial plant, one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe, BASE breathes life back into a monument of industrial architecture by exploring new ways of bringing public and private enterprises together.
Built between 1904 and 1923, the complex started out as a mechanical firm before being bought by Ansaldo in the 1960s for the production of engines, train carriages and tramways. In the 1970s as production systems changed, the factory was abandoned and whole buildings were left empty. In 1990 the Milan City Council bought the Ansaldo complex and began redeveloping the entire area for cultural purposes. In 1994 the Laboratori della Scala, the Scala Theatre workshops, were moved to the complex, followed in 2015 by MUDEC – the Milan Museum of Cultures.
In 2014 a public tender issued by the Milan City Council assigned the remaining space to a group consisting of Avanzi, esterni, H+ and a|cube, which then became a social enterprise in the form of a limited company. An 18-year concession, issued after a major investment of 16 million euros for the renovation of the entire building, now allows this space to be enjoyed by everyone.
The Onsite Studio architectural design of the former Ansaldo industrial plant is designed to provide the flexibility its various programmes and activities require. It therefore offers a range of scenarios for a large open building that has no particular, single form. In this sense the project seeks to create a radically public structure, especially in its concept of space. The architectural work carried out combines this goal with the need to conserve the extraordinary quality of the existing environments, their fascinating atmospheres and the industrial mood of the building that is also evident in its materials, proportions and spaces. The heart of the project is the relationship between the large, formerly industrial spaces and a series of volumes of different sizes that house essential facilities. The latter are carefully laid out to create a “micro-urban” environment consisting of spaces that recall large and small squares and roads, reinforcing the idea of urban civilization contained in the BASE’s Activities Manifesto. A limited catalogue of materials has been used so as not distract attention from the installations, the microarchitecture, the cultural events and, above all, the people.
The artificial lighting, designed by Studio Voltaire, helps to underline the tone and character of the original building and its new functions. iGuzzini luminaires have been installed, especially on the second floor, where the BASE Project House is located. Special, black iN60 linear luminaires are mounted on the large desks that emit direct lighting obtained with Laser Blade luminaires and indirect lighting, thanks to the Underscore 15 that softens the general lighting atmosphere. Next to the workstations, a separate reading space has been created with wooden and glass partitions that form meeting rooms, which are lit with track-mounted Palco projectors. Beyond the desks, the space continues with no partitions into relaxation zones or relatively empty areas for informal working, furnished with coloured sofas, shelves, a table football game and seating positioned under the windows. In these areas, more intimate lighting has been used. This is why black, track-mounted Palco (Ø 62mm) projectors have been installed and, in some cases, surface-mounted Laser luminaires. There is also a work break area where people can pause for a coffee or a quick game of table football.
On the third floor where the Fondazione Cariplo offices are located, special iN60 luminaires with UGR<19 microprismatic screens have been used to create direct lighting with the Underscore 15, again, providing indirect lighting. Tracks and special grey colour Palco (Ø62mm) projectors have been fitted in some spaces that are designed for events, like the presentation room or the multi-purpose room.
For the Music Rooms zone, curated by the Geza studio, different lighting solutions have been installed according to the functions carried out. In the co-working space, furnished with large tables, high contrast iN30 and Laser pendant luminaires have been used to focus light on the worktops.
Whereas, in the exhibition spaces, track-mounted Palco projectors were chosen.
All in all, this careful layout of distinctive elements adds character to this space, making it cosy and inviting while also focusing attention on its contents and activities.
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