The Scalo Porta Romana project and Milan’s Olympic Village for the 2026 Winter Games are one step closer to becoming reality. Coima, which is developing the long-neglected area of the city, has just presented the revised masterplan and chosen the winning project for the athletes’ village.
US studio Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has been awarded the contract for the 60,000 sq m area that will host the village, which will be ready by summer 2025 and then, when the Games are over, will be turned into student accommodation with 1,000 beds.
“It will be one project with two functions and a focus on legacy,” said Manfredi Catella, founder & CEO, Coima. “When the Olympics ends, the buildings will be turned seamlessly into student housing as a hub integrated within the city. Our vision is creating a lively green neighbourhood open to everyone.”
SOM, which has designed the World Trade Center in New York and the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, was chosen fromn six finalists from among 27 consortia representing 71 architects’ studios from nine countries that originally presented their plans and competed for the assignment.
Showcasing Milan and its hospitality
SOM said the buildings for the athletes would “be a showcase of Milan and its hospitality” during the two-week winter Olympics and will then turn into an urban village. The elongated buildings are interconnected by courtyards and gardens at ground level and open terraces and walkways on the floors above.
Two existing historic buildings, Rialzo and Basilico, will be preserved, restored and transformed into co-working spaces with an indoor and outdoor marketplace and culture spaces for pop-up installations and artistic and musical events.
The development will be sustainable, energy-neutral and aligned with EU taxonomy. New modular building methods will be used in order to reduce embedded carbon and also to increase the speed of construction, SOM said, which is essential given the tight time-frame.
The Olympic Village will be a part of the Scalo Porta Romana project, an entirely car-free site which will include affordable housing, offices, retail and many green spaces.
The revised Masterplan, presented by Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has a park at its centre as “the organising principle of the project” and represents “a better balance between public realm and built areas, to create an integrated neighbourhood”.
‘Floating forest’ reminiscent of New York’s High Line
The project includes “eco-zones” of woodland and wetlands and a 1 km-long “floating forest”, an elevated promenade above the railway tracks planted with hundreds of native trees, reminiscent of the High Line in New York, which Diller also designed.
The original masterplan was revised after a public consultation and to take account of the views of local authorities. The Scalo Porta Romana project is a partnership between Coima, Covivio, the municipality of Milan, the Prada Foundation, railway company FS, the Olympic Committee and the Lombardy Region, which is acting as financial guarantor.