In Milan, a space dedicated to water, its management, its values, the legacy of Leonardo da Vinci. It is the new Water Central. FUD and DEGW develop concept design, interior design, layout and physical branding.
MM, which runs the Integrated Water Service of the city from the 2003, wanted to transform the historic Cenisio plant in the Centrale dell'Acqua in Milan. One of the oldest pumping stations of the Milanese aqueduct - designed at the end of the 1800 by engineer Franco Minorini and commissioned in the 1906 - today becomes the first space dedicated entirely to public water, its story, its protection, its values. MM makes the central areas accessible to all citizens. Rich in history, they tell the great work of thousands of professionals struggling with the most important resource on the planet.
An experiential and multifunctional place, open to citizens and students, where to concentrate a series of diversified and interdisciplinary actions to make public water known. Where to meet the protagonists of this world, live interactive workshops, participate in debates and training sessions, read and learn about the qualities of the water that flows from the tap.
The design concept of the integrated FUD and DEGW team (both brands of the Lombardini22 Group, respectively specialized in brand design and strategic consultancy for the office space) arises from the union of two value systems: the architectural one of the power plant and the water element.
The result is a multilevel imaginary: liquid, transparent, Milanese, contemporary, connected.
A concept in which the states of water - solid, liquid, gaseous - are synthesized in graphic forms and become three identity patterns. Each one represents an aspect of the new Centrale dell'Acqua Milano: Architecture, Aqueduct, Digital.
From the union of architecture and water also comes the new color palette, which combines the different shades of blue with the reds of the bricks that characterize the facade of the historic center.
The areas that make up the user experience of the Acqua Milano plant are 5. An immersive and flexible route depending on the needs and type of visit (cultural, informative, interactive, educational ...):
1 - Reception
The reception welcomes and introduces guests to the spaces. It is a transitory place between the solid dimension (the architecture just crossed) and the liquid one (the central hall with the pump area). Here you can inquire and stop.
2 - Library
Meeting space dedicated to work teams, meetings for small groups or classes, and the consultation of books available for purchase and loan.
3 - Central hall
The pulsating core of the old plant: it is here that "we can hear and see" the water of Milan flowing. In the old water pump room, through 3D viewers, the visitor is the protagonist of the original operation of the plant. Three vertical banners reproduce the patterns of water conditions, accompany the visitor and enhance the height and details of the space. The existences architecture is enhanced and made functional by custom furnishing complements, while an immense projection on the central wall evokes underwater imaginaries. From the gallery you move inside the salon to enjoy the richness of its contents: historical, photographic, paper and even digital.
4 - Multifunctional area
Events, townhalls, conferences, shows and workshops will be possible thanks to the flexibility with which this place was conceived. It is in fact able to reproduce totally different scenarios depending on the occasion. The walls are full of graphics that tell about the quality of the water and the analysis of the characteristics. A new mezzanine will host temporary exhibitions and installations, its transparency allows the vision of the area on which it is suspended and a surprising view on the local pumps.
5 - Virtual Reality
It is the most gaseous (digital) dimension of the new plant, where technology surprises visitors and involves them in 360 degrees in a virtual experience, on the border between virtual and real.
So FUD and DEGW interpret a central theme of today, which needs to take root in the culture and everyday life of every citizen. A beautiful, experiential and engaging place has also the strength to sensitize and inform, to contribute to the development of future scenarios.
Location: Milan, via Cenisio 39
End of works: July 2018
Services: Brand idea, concept design, layout, interior, physical branding
Photo credits: Dario Tettamanzi