Milano Santa Giulia, a new urban district is under redevelopment in the south-east of Milan, only a few kilometres from the city centre and connected to the high-speed train network and motorway. Evolved on the basis of a masterplan by Foster + Partners, the new city district encompasses residential buildings, buildings for education, commerce and leisure as well as an extensive park. The centrepiece of the area is a new arena, catering for sports and cultural events with up to 16,000 visitors. It will serve as a venue for the Winter Olympic Games in early 2026 and will subsequently be used for large concerts, sports events and festivals. Outside of event hours, the wide outdoor areas will also provide a new opportunity for social interactions for people from the neighbourhood as well as from the whole city.
The arena, which is being developed in a collaboration between Arup and David Chipperfield Architects Berlin, is placed in the extreme south of the rectangular site. The strategic position of the arena creates a spacious piazza of over 10,000 square metres in the northern section of the site, which can also be used as a venue for outdoor events. The elliptical form of the building is inspired by the archetype of the amphitheatre, being reinterpreted with modern tectonics and materials. Slightly rotated from the north-south axis, the arena welcomes arriving guests from the west. It is supported by a raised podium that occupies almost the entire site and opens up to visitors via a wide flight of steps as well as an entrance cut into the podium at street level.
On top of this podium made of mineral materials, the arena rises up in the form of three rings of differing heights, quasi floating on top of each other. Their metallic materiality is characterised by the shimmering aluminium tubes during the day and the LED strips of the large-scale media integration that light up at night. The rings are connected by light, transparent glass bands in the spaces in between as well as with the floor. Towards the piazza, the rings project irregularly, giving the building its dynamic form. The hard materiality of the podium and the arena is counterbalanced by organically designed green spaces with trees that extend down the staircase, reminiscent of a green hilly landscape.
Inside the arena, there are two tiers above the parterre level as well as a level with lounges and sky boxes. All seats are accessible via spacious lobbies at all levels, as are catering and service facilities. The necessary car parking spaces are located within the podium as well as in a multi-storey car park that evolves from the podium, closing off the site to the north. In addition to measures to minimise the consumption of resources and CO² emissions, the sustainability concept includes photovoltaic systems on the roof, whose energy generated on site largely covers the needs of the energy efficient building.