Prada Foundation

Milan | Italy


Prada Foundation SpA
Architectural design
OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture
2009 - 2015
Amount of works
46.000.000 €
Services Provided
Structure design | Plant design
Total area: 17,500 m2
Construction technique
steel, masonry, reinforced concrete

A hub for contemporary art

Located in a former 1910 distillery in an industrial complex on the southern outskirts of Milan, the Fondazione Prada's new headquarters is a coexistence of new and regenerated buildings, including warehouses, workshops and brewing silos surrounding a large courtyard.

The complex aims to expand the repertoire of spatial types in which art can be exhibited. In addition to its inherent artistic heritage, it represents a true collection of architectural spaces that introduce so many spatial variables and promote unstable and open programming in which art and architecture benefit from each other's challenges.

The Milan headquarters of Fondazione Prada stands on Largo Isarco in the Scalo di Porta Romana district, which has undergone a major redevelopment in recent years. The project by architect Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA, integrates the industrial architectural structure of the early 20th century with new additions that now make up a complex of seven existing buildings, including warehouses, laboratories and silos, and three new structures, developed around a large central courtyard. With a total area of 17,500 m2 is one of the largest complexes dedicated to contemporary art in Italy.

Rehabilitation of existing buildings and new construction

Fondazione Prada, created in 1993, is a nonprofit institution born out of Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli's deep passion for contemporary art.
Since its earliest years, the Foundation has commissioned art installations, promoted initiatives in the field of cinema, including in collaboration with the Venice Biennale, organized cultural events with the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, and promoted dedicated philosophy symposia and architecture exhibitions. With the creation of the Largo Isarco spaces, Fondazione Prada gives shape and substance to its old and new initiatives, creating a permanent cultural and exhibition center.

The approach chosen by OMA was to integrate the existing industrial buildings, suitably restored, with three new volumes: Podium, Cinema and Tower. The Foundation includes exhibition spaces, offices, a cinema, an archive, a library, a store and Bar Luce, designed by the well-known British director Wes Anderson, who was inspired by a typical 1950s Milanese café for the project. One of the symbols of the complex is the Haunted House, a small four-story gilded building that houses part of the Foundation's collection.
While art has traditionally been exhibited in aseptic galleries, industrial spaces, contemporary museums and art fairs, Koolhaas's goal has been to create a succession of different spatial contexts for the works on display.

Rendering Redevelopment Prada Foundation Museum in Milan
Prada Foundation Museum in Milan
Prada Foundation Museum in Milan
Prada Foundation Museum in Milan
Prada Foundation Museum in Milan

Minimal demolition and structural reinforcement

The philosophy of the redevelopment of the industrial complex was total rehabilitation of every building with minimal demolition, only where necessary.

The consistency of the existing structures, which are of industrial origin, was determined as a result of extensive building survey campaigns. Structural inspections generally revealed the need for major reinforcement work on existing structures.
In fact, many masonries were not found to be able to guarantee the level of safety required by seismic and fire prevention regulations due to their low mechanical strength and the onerous safety coefficients imposed by the standard in the ultimate limit state verifications.
Load-bearing walls and pillars were reinforced with cement mortar injections and the insertion of steel elements; floors were affected by treatments to ensure the necessary fire resistance.

The purely industrial roof structures, which strongly characterize the spaces with their appearance, have been subjected to rehabilitation, including the replacement of metal trusses and the resurfacing of the roofs.
The new structures were built with a modular concrete construction system integrated with steel and glass.
Of particular interest among these is the Tower, which marks the completion of the Milan office. The 60-meter-high building is made of exposed structural white concrete. The south side features a diagonal structure that joins it to the Depot, inside which a panoramic elevator fits.

Prada Foundation Museum redevelopment site in Milan
Prada Foundation Museum redevelopment site in Milan
interior site redevelopment Prada Foundation Museum in Milan

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