Biblioteca degli Alberi, the “Library of Trees,” is the winning proposal for the Giardini di Porta Nuova, awarded in 2004 to a multidisciplinary team which also includes landscape architect Petra Blaisse and urban planner Mirko Zardini.  The Library serves both as a new way of understanding the plants, herbs and flowers that populate the park’s paths and as a new junction in the midst of the city, a cultural nexus that links both the surrounding offices and the fashion and cultural infrastructure with public transportation and the Quartiere Isola residential area to the north.  The park’s botanical gardens, trees and orchards, public squares, paths, galleries, halls, and train station are equal parts community center, fashion backdrop, and cultural campus, integrated not only within the surrounding context but also within the larger system of institutions and parks in Milan.


The Library of Trees is foremost a connection:  systems of paths which tie the heterogeneous elements of the park’s context through each of the phases of the park’s development, as well as serving as the primary conduits of communication and infrastructure for the Library and the diverse experiences it supports.  These paths generate a mosaic of irregular plots, each planted with specific groups of plant species, grasses and lawn, with circular groupings of trees superimposed over this patchwork, forming a botanic library, a series of public spaces that house cultural and recreational programs.


The park is more than a collection of picturesque paths:  it is an educational and cultural nucleus for Milan.  Contained in the five buildings arrayed within the Library are a fashion school, museum, exhibition spaces, galleries, restaurants, bookstores, a recreation and aquatics center, and a tent for festivals and relaxation.  They activate, define and protect the park, transforming it from backdrop to an active foreground of experience and interaction.  Finally, the Library of Trees is not only an extension or intensification of the urban economic system into which it is inserted, it is also, fundamentally, a neighborhood garden, belonging to the nearby Quartiere Isola.  The Library contains a community center dedicated to apartments, ateliers, child- and elderly-care facilities, and shops while the park’s nursery, greenhouses, and recreation fields serve as an extension of the city’s daily life, a new, green heart for the city and its residents.

LOCATION / Milan, Italy
TYPE / Public Park with Fashion School, Museum, and Recreation and Aquatics Center
SIZE / 30 Acres
ROLE / Design Architect
COST / $59 million

AWARDS / First Prize, International Competition