Waugh Thistleton Architects

MIND Westgate 1
MIND Westgate 2
MIND Westgate 3


June 2022





RIBA workstages

Concept to Planning

The Milan Expo 2015 site will be developed as a major new district for science, knowledge and innovation that will comprise commercial, residential, retail and public realm, delivered over the next 15 years. The Milano Innovation District (MIND) will be ‘an innovation ecosystem, catalyst for social and economic growth’.

For the first phase of this major urbanisation project Waugh Thistleton, in collaboration with local practice Puiarch, are designing 50,000 m2 of office and commercial space at the West Gate site, the principal arrival point to MIND from the west. The site will comprise twin commercial buildings, Horizon and Zenith. At 13 storeys Zenith will be the tallest timber building in Italy and amongst the tallest globally.  

The design is characterised by an innovative, highly digitised approach which uses Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) to standardise components and enable offsite construction. The digital assets contain both production times and cost, ensuring the design has evolved alongside budget and programme.

In line with Lendlease’s corporate goal of being net zero carbon by 2040, innovation and sustainability also manifest through the choice of timber as the primary structural material. This replenishable material reduces the embodied carbon of the building.

Both buildings comfortably achieve a LETI B rating and a quarter of this embodied carbon impact could be offset against the carbon which is stored within the timber structures of the buildings. Designed for end of life the individual structural components can be dis-assembled and reused or repurposed at end of the building’s useful life, further reducing the long term impact of the construction.

MIND aspires to recreate the architectural variety found in an urban context and draws inspiration from post-war Milanese construction from the 1950s and 1960s, whose modernity remains an important reference today. This heritage is reflected in the choice of different layouts for the buildings’ façades: Zenith, to the north, has a vertical grid while Horizon to the south has a horizontal composition.

The theme of Common Ground is shared by the entire MIND masterplan. The ground floors of both buildings open creating spatial continuity between outside and inside, between public and private, and generating opportunity for social interaction, encounters and relationships.