MF3A /// Ecostructure. The Plan award winner 2015

MF3A /// Ecostructure. The Plan award winner 2015

Authors: Franz Bittenbinder, Mattia Di Carlo, Andrea Govi, Alberto Giacopelli and Antonio La Marca

Year: 2015

Institution: Politecnico di Milano

Nationality: Italy and Germany

Ecostructure proposes a future scenario for Milano in which a new, super-imposed structure grows along a green axis through the city. With the aim to enrich the existing biodiversity, it is creating manifold links of interaction between humans and the new urban nature.


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Our contemporary cities in Europe as well as in other parts of the world reveal a rather schizophrenic relationship of our built environment with nature, which is rooted in the very beginnings of human society: on the one hand cities are created to include nature employing the benefits of green spaces and using animals for our purposes, whereas on the other hand we need distance from it to be safe from its discomfort, danger and threats.

But what is the contemporary approach to this essential question in times when the value of local resources gets more and more important?  Whereas mostly the usual approach to add green spaces and natural elements in our cities happens to be disjointed as a patchwork of fragmented interventions, currently there is a new, rising interest for more immediate ways to deal with nature in our cities.

Taking up these thoughts and tendencies, the Ecostructure develops an even more invasive future scenario.  It is based on the believe that coexistence of men and nature can be achieved by the balancing act between expedient proximity and indispensable distance by means of the superposition principle: human activities on the lower levels and habitats for animals on theupper ones where both spheres fade into each other.

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The Ecostructure grows along a predetermined axis through Milan adapting to the given circumstances in the urban fabric, which can result in detachment but also in direct physical connection with existing buildings and public places. For this reason the project employs the metaphor of the parasite that conquers the space providing niches for biodiversity and human interaction.

The mentioned axis which pre-sets the route of the Ecostructure is derived from the idea to create an opposing system to the existing axis of Sempione, which is composed of a series of spaces and buildings in Milan that are related to the political past and the cultural presence of the city.

Placing the Ecostructure perpendicularly to Sempione axis, the project urges, in contrast to the cultural axis, for a new idea of the city, which includes not only anthropocentric considerations but also the aspect of biodiversity. The proposal comprises apart from the general rules for the parasite structure a series of spatial solutions for significant “foci” f.e. Piazza Duomo, Torre Galfa, Viale Luciano Gioa etc. along the new axis, that connects two important ecosystems of Milan – the Naviglio della Martesana and Naviglio Grande. These foci are the result of an extensive analysis which was conducted using indicators for anthropocentric and biodiversity aspects in order to determine the qualities and deficits as well as the urge of intervention along the Ecostructure.


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The structure is based on one of the inherent systems of nature which although not ultimately explored serves as essence of natural growth – the fractal behaviour. A fractal is an object whose parts, at infinitely many levels of magnification, appear geometrically similar to the whole. Employing this principle of nature the Ecostructure is based on a repetitive system of steel frames and rigid nodes that follows the analogy of a tree to produce a system that dissolves skywards with branches that split according to the specific ratio of the Fibonacci series.  In terms of featured functions the Ecostructure hosts a broad range of activities serving nature, as well as man, by means of four spatial modules, that are embedded into the general construction described above. These modules are: horizontal boards providing a ground to move, rest, sit etc.; shells to collect and contain water and soil; boxes giving shelter and protecting from the weather and finally the tube as a formal variant of the box allowing a better surface-volume ratio.


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