Humanitas and contemporary humanism
Filippo Taidelli Architetto
The Humanitas University Campus, a 25,000 square metre site located in Pieve Emanuele, Milan and involving a total investment of 100 million euros, is based on an outstanding project by architect Filippo Taidelli from the practice FTA.
Set amongst the greenery of the Parco Sud Milano, the new international faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Nursing and Physiotherapy, a branch of the nearby Humanitas Research Hospital, features a latest-generation Simulation Centre, hi-tech classrooms and laboratories, sports areas and above all a large number of informal meeting spaces facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience.
Inspired by the university model widespread throughout the English-speaking world, this cutting-edge university in terms of educational content and environmental sustainability is an excellent example of perfect integration between the built and natural environments, a kind of contemporary urban village immersed in the countryside on the edge of the city.
The Campus is divided into three luminous, warm-coloured volumes with large windows facing onto a square at the centre of a series of intersecting paths extending through the greenery: a large multifunctional building which houses the canteen, library and communal offices, characterised by double and triple heights and large terraces); the teaching centre; and the research laboratories. A residence accommodating 250 students was also opened a few months ago.
The key concept underpinning the entire project is that of environmental sustainability, which is achieved through the design of the volumes themselves and the use of cutting-edge materials and technologies. The layout of the sloping volumes of different height not only serves to create a pleasant and functional environment but also helps mitigate solar gain in summer and limit heat losses in winter. Furthermore, the glazed internal courtyards facilitate natural lighting and blur the distinction between interior and exterior while minimising the use of electricity for lighting. Along with the use of photovoltaic and thermal solar panels, another highly effective technological solution consists of porcelain rainscreen panels from the Pietre Native line by Casalgrande Padana, chosen in a palette of warm, material tones that lend movement and vibrancy to the facades according to the incident light, enhancing the powerful sense of alternation with the windows and the large glazed entrance. The choice fell in particular on the colours Dragon Beige and Dragon Brown from the Amazzonia collection and the colour Porto Cervo from the Pietre di Sardegna collection, all in a 45×90 cm size. «Right from the beginning I realised that Casalgrande Padana was not just a supplier but a valuable technical consultant with a high degree of sensitivity towards my aesthetic vision and enormous flexibility in translating the façade concept into reality throughout the entire design process,» architect Filippo Taidelli told us. «The artistic goal was to create an unconventional rainscreen cladding using stone-effect tiles in a vertical layout. The way the surface of the chosen tiles changes in different weather conditions coupled with the mounting system allowed us to achieve a dynamic relationship between the colours of each volume of the building while maintaining a common snakeskin texture that unifies the entire complex. The use of ceramic tiles in conjunction with cutting-edge technology further improves the aesthetic quality of the natural finish. Today’s tile producers are no longer content to simply mimic a natural stone or concrete effect but actually improve the ease of maintenance of the surface in terms of self-cleaning and application of force. And thanks to their hardness and low thickness, when used in conjunction with the flexible substructure these products are able to achieve astonishing effects in terms of form, surface dimensions and low weight, giving the architect a new creative tool.»
In recognition of the important role played by porcelain tile throughout the entire complex, architect Filippo Taidelli was named winner of the «Shopping and business centres» category of the eleventh edition of the international Grand Prix Casalgrande Padana competition for this project and that of the Humanitas Hospital Congress Centre. Both projects were acknowledged for their sophisticated compositional sensitivity in combining the quality of the spaces and the surface coverings.
Stone-effect porcelain from the Chalon collection in the colour Chalon Grey, also by Casalgrande Padana, was chosen for the interiors, where polychrome masses continue the play of volumes of the exterior. This effect is maintained on the external walkways, further emphasising the sense of continuity that runs through the entire project.
Casalgrande Padana, Amazzonia e Pietre di Sardegna
Dark Ivory, Botticino, Bianco Roccia, Dragon Beige, Porto Cervo, Dragon Brown
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 150 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): > 45 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 Naturale, R12 A+B+C Grip
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant