Open since October 31 in Milan’s Porta Venezia district, MEET is a centre for digital culture and creative technology designed by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota in a historic building in Via Vittorio Veneto.
The location chosen for MEET is an early twentieth-century building that was expanded in the late ’nineties by Italian architect Gae Aulenti and has now been renovated with the support of Fondazione Cariplo.
CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota’s project allows the building to continue serving its function as a symbol of the city’s cultural life while taking into account today’s technologies and progress. The 1500 square metres of the new cultural centre are distributed over three levels and include an auditorium and a 200-seat theatre with three screens, a coffee shop and bistro and an “Immersive Room” for digital installations and continuous projections over three walls.
The key element in the project is the large public space, a true vertical plaza incorporating the “Living Staircase”: a brightly coloured "habitable" stairwell 15 metres high which forms the focal point and node of all the activities and events held at MEET every day. Users can walk up the ramps and stop on the landings, where, inspired by the concept of "ubiquitous computing" proposed by scientist Mark Weiser, they can use multimedia projection systems, attend conferences and artistic performances, or just meet with other people moving about the building. The Living Staircase can become a theatre, a workplace, or a meeting-place, as required, representing a new concept of space. Architect Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA and Urban Technology instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, presented the project with an emphasis on the importance and role of physical space in a world that is becoming increasingly digitalised and isolated due to the pandemic:” Today, we continue to live and work in pandemic-induced isolation where almost anything can be done online. At this time, it is vital to use architecture to produce serendipitous moments and help foster new connections – precisely those that rarely happen on the web". One possible solution is designing hybrid physical spaces that go beyond the rigid division of functions. And this is exactly what the architects of CRA have created in MEET: a hybrid space capable of hosting different activities at the same time, while permitting interconnection and participation for all users, promoting unexpected meetings and circulation of new ideas.
Images courtesy of CRA Carlo Ratti Associati, photos by Michele Nastasi
Project Name: MEET Digital Culture Center
Architects: CRA Carlo Ratti Associati
Creative consultancy: Italo Rota, Francesca Grassi
CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (Project Manager), Chiara Morandini, Valentina Grasso, Luca Giacolini, Serena Giardina, Aurora Maggio, Anna Morani, Matteo Zerbi, Aunie Frisch, Andrea Galli, Oliver Kazimir, Gerolamo Gnecchi Rusconi, Alessandro Tassinari
Preliminary setting of MEP and environmental strategy: Ai Studio
Execution: Studio Del Giacco
Structural design: INGEMBP
Lighting design: Artemide
Acoustic consultancy: Onleco
Audio-video technologies: Audviser
With the support of the Cariplo Foundation.
Main partner: Intesa Sanpaolo.
Supporters: Artemide and Mediatrade.
Pictures by: Michele Nastasi, Serena Giardina