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Zaha Hadid Architects

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CityLife Milano

  • Milan, Italy
  • 2004 – 2012
  • CityLife Consortium
  • Under Construction
  • 135,000m2
  • Office Tower: 65,000m²
  • Retail Galleria: 25,000m²
  • Housing Complex: 45,000m² and 300 units.

Creating a portal to the FieraMilano: a 43-storey, 190 metre retail tower emerging from the site, giving shape to a torsion or vortex, a slow rising and twisting from its base. Horizontal energy is released into a vertical, spiralling vector aligned with the snaking forms of the housing across the river.

The high-rise as a building typology has historically been treated as a static, fixed strategy: a technocratic engineering solution governed by specific economic factors.

For this project, in a radical departure from tradition, we investigated the urban location of the tower as a portal or gate to the FieraMilano. We explored how the passage from the site to this gate could give shape to a torsion or vortex, a sense of dynamic movement, to inspire our design approach.

Moving from the ground datum of the Piazza Porta Fiera, the retail base of the tower slowly rises and twists, providing a pedestrian ramp with a bifurcation along its length, to service the galleria. This line of torsion continues to the tower, which releases its horizontal energy into a vertical, spiraling vector from the base to its crown, finally aligning with the snaking forms of the housing across the river.

Congruent with this movement, the tower is structured as a stack of equivalent, economically efficient floor slabs that incrementally twist around a vertical axis. Developing the dynamism of the building, this twisting is algorithmically controlled, so that each floor has a different yet fractional, relational angle to the one above and below.

All lateral forces are absorbed into a conventional, central core, while a radial display of columns support vertical load.

The views and panoramas provided along the height of the office tower move dynamically, sweeping from the Piazza Firenze to the Piazza Giovanni Amendola. Viewed from a distance, the building’s exterior silhouette clearly demarcates an entry gate into a new, vital FieraMilano.

The residential area has been designed with meandering lines across the park, with one of the buildings serving to transform it into a series of intimate, semi-public gardens for residents’ use.




Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Director

Gianluca Racana

Project Architect

Paolo Zilli (Tower), Maurizio Meossi (Residential)

Tower Design Team

Andrea Balducci Castè, H. Goswin Rothenthal, Gianluca Barone, Marco Amoroso, Alvin Triestano, Letizia Simoni, Subharthi Guha, Marina Martinez, Luis Miguel Samanez, Santiago F. Achury, Massimo Napoleoni, Massimiliano Piccinini, Annarita Papeschi, Martha Read, Carlos S. Martinez, Arianna Russo, Giuseppe Morando, Peter McCarthy, Line Rahbek, Mario Mattia, Matteo Pierotti

Residential Design Team

Vincenzo Barilari, Cristina Capanna, Giacomo Sanna, Paola Bettinsoli, Gianluca Bilotta, Fabio Ceci, Veronica Erspamer, Arianna Francioni, Stefano Iacopini, Mario Mattia, Serena Pietrantonj, Florindo Ricciuti, Giulia Scaglietta, Giovanna Sylos Labini, Anja Simons, Marta Suarez, Tamara Tancorre, Giuseppe Vultaggio, Massimiliano Piccinini, Samuele Sordi, Alessandra Belia

Site Supervision Team

Cristina Capanna, Veronica Erspamer, Stefano Iacopini, Giulia Scaglietta, Florindo Ricciuti

Competition Team

Simon Kim, Yael Brosilovski, Adriano De Gioannis, Graham Modlen, Karim Muallem, Daniel Li, Yang Jingwen, Tiago Correia, Ana Cajiao, Daniel Baerlecken, Judith Reitz


Adams Kara Taylor, Redesco, Cap Engineering


Max Fordham Partnership, Manens, MilanoProgetti


Roger Preston


Silvestre Mistretta


Systematica, Sudio Corda, Alpina