Bicocca degli Arcimboldi, Milan

A visit to the Biccoca degli Arcimboldi, Pirelli HQ and the Pirelli Foundation in the northern part of Milan (thanks to Fai)...
Every Spring in Italy there's a fantastic event taking place, the Fai (Fondo Ambientale Italiano) days. Fai is a private organization that focuses on protecting the Italian monuments that are abandoned or ruined, restoring them and opening them, once a year to the public (normally around the end of March) so that everyone can admire their beauty for free (of course donations are welcome and appreciated).
Let's start with the Pirelli Building, the new headquarters of the famous tires company opened in 2005 and was designed by Gregotti Associati, the studio that designed the new quarter Bicocca where the Pirelli factories used to be.
The new structure was build around the old cooling tower, inside of which there's an auditorium for meetings and company events and a heliport on top.
It is an example of conservative architecture because instead of taking down the cooling tower, it was used as a main element of the new building, and by turning it into an auditorium, it gives the idea of keeping it as the core of the public activities of the company.
One of the sides of the building has a huge floor to ceiling window overlooking the historic building known as Bicocca degli Arcimboldi.
The Bicocca degli Arcimboldi is a 15th Century country villa or hunting lodge, built by the Arcimboldis, an aristocratic family from Parma. The family died out in the first half of the 18th Century and the villa passed from one family to the other until it became a property of the Pirelli Group in 1918 and it was the Group's official reception venue for decades.
In that time it was also a home-cum-school for orphans, then an outdoor school for children in need and lastly a company's kindergarten.
The 2-floor villa is a typical example of country architecture, a result of countless extensions and refurbishments, with elements added later such as chimneys, a clock, a small bell tower and a portal.
It has been restored many times during the years, the last time in the late Nineties, trying to preserve the original interiors and recovering the frescoes, which represent scenes of the country life.
After the visit of the villa, our Fai guide brought us to the museum of the Foundation Pirelli. Pirelli is one of the most long-lived multinational corporations in Italy (lately it made headlines when some stakes were sold to a Chinese group), founded by the Pirelli family in 1872, it has a particular corporate culture which combines technological innovation with liberal culture, scientific research with artistic experimentation and the promotion of talent with international vision.*
It was this vision that led to the creation of the Pirelli Foundation in 2009 to preserve the cultural, historic and contemporary heritage of the Group through exhibitions, conferences and cooperation with other cultural institutions.
The motto of the Foundation, which welcomes visitors in Milanese dialect "Now we'll understand something: let's go and look inside" is a quotation by engineer Luigi Emanueli, the inventor of the oil-filled cable in 1917 and it refers to the practical approach and research that have been a key part of the Group's corporate culture.
The large mosaic in the first floor of the Foundation building is called Scientific Research by Renato Guttuso (1961) and was made for the International Labour Exhibition of Turin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. For the occasion, Pirelli created a pavilion dedicated to scientific research that was dominated by the mosaic.
The historical archives preserve documentation of the company's history from the foundation in 1872 to the present.
If you want to visit the Foundation you can check on their website and book your visit, and if you want to visit the HQ and the Bicocca degli Arcimboldi, stay tuned for next year's Fai Spring days and book your tour here: http://www.faiprenotazioni.it/eventi.php?delegazione=Milano

*most parts of this text are excerpts of the Fondazione Pirelli leaflets

Fondazione Pirelli
Viale Sarca 222
20126 Milan, Italy
Tel. +39 02.6442.3971
email: info@fondazionepirelli.org

Pirelli Headquarters (and Bicocca degli Arcimboldi - open only in few select dates through the year)
Viale Piero e Alberto Pirelli, 25(reception in Via Bicocca degli Arcimboldi, 3)
20126 Milan, Italy
Tel: +39 02 6442 1

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