Fiera Milano Executive Offices, Italy

Fiera Milano Executive Offices, Italy

Horizontal Tower

The result of an international limited competition, this administration building by 5+1AA complements the sprawling grounds of the Milan Trade Fair in Rho. Dubbed the ‘horizontal tower’ by its designers, the structure combines two separate buildings within one envelope, intertwining horizontal and vertical design principles to create a sitespecific and highly evocative new landmark.

Designed by Alfonso Femia and Gianluca Peluffo of the 5+1AA practice, in collaboration with French architect Jean-Baptiste Pietri, this administration building for the Milan Trade Fair in Rho consolidates its executive offices which had previously been scattered over various premises. The 21,000 square meter facility is wedged between the east gate of Massimiliano Fuksas’ imposing exhibition complex and the underground railway station exit, overlooking major infrastructural facilities, such as the Milan–Turin highway to the east.

The horizontal tower and the vertical building, a combination of two buildings, are the two “souls” making this a representative and symbolic building.


©Jürg Zimmermann, Zurich, Switzerland

The desire to design a building that interrelates with the neighbouring fair while asserting its formal autonomy inspired a hybrid concept that blends two contrary design principles. Echoing the horizontal layout of the fair grounds, the slender, tapering building features a distinctly horizontal structure, allowing different interactions with the varied contexts on either side. Gold-tinted glass panes are used for the northern tip of the building, while the northwest façade, facing the fair, is clad in gold Swisspearl panels. Southward, the envelope seems to dissolve, peeling off its panelling and transforming it into a lively arrangement of suspended opaque glass panes that serve as brise soleils on the southeast façade that faces the city of Milan.

©Jürg Zimmermann, Zurich, Switzerland
©Jürg Zimmermann, Zurich, Switzerland

Towering over the adjacent fair pavilions, the structure encloses two separate buildings, linked by a full-height entrance lobby. Based on the classical tripartite division of base, middle and Top, the two 13-story buildings add a markedly vertical element to the design, thus counterpointing the horizontality of the overall scheme. Raised above road level, the base separates the pedestrian flows in a succession of expanding (foyer) and compressing (canteen, offices) spaces. Visually dividing the elevation of the building, a two-story horizontal slot between the 5th and 6th floors frames a panoramic view of the scenery. The top floor accommodates a large roof garden and boasts a somewhat oversized circular helipad as the conspicuous signature element of the new office building.

©Jürg Zimmermann, Zurich, Switzerland


Fiera Milano Executive Offices


Largo Metropolitana 1, Rho, Italy


Sviluppo Sistema Fiera spa, Milan, Italy


Alfonso Femia, Gianluca Peluffo and Simonetta Cenci, Genoa, Italy; Jean-Baptiste Pietri Architectes, Paris, France


Jürg Zimmermann, Zurich, Switzerland


Building period
2008 – 2010

General contractor
Italiana Costruzioni spa, Milan


Façade material
Swisspearl Largo Reflex Gold 9272


PDF project sheet
Click here to download the project sheet

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