A space devoted to knowledge about water
A facility devoted to water, how it is managed, its values and Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy has opened in Milan. It is the new Waterworks FUD and DEGW developed the design concept, interior design, layout and physical branding.
MM, which has been managing the city’s Integrated Water Service since 2003, was looking to convert its old Cenisioplant at the Milan Waterworks. One of Milan aqueduct’s oldest pumping stations - designed towards the end of the 19th century by the engineer Franco Minorini and first brought into operation in 1906 - it has become the first facility entirely focused on the public water supply, its history, protection and underlying values. MM has opened the waterworks to the public. Full of history, they provide an overview of the dedicated work of thousands of professionals getting to grips with the planet’s most important resource.
An experiential, multipurpose location open to local and students hosting a range of miscellaneous interdisciplinary activities designed to inform people about the public water supply service. A place for meeting the key players in this field, enjoying interactive workshops, taking part in debates and training courses, reading and being informed about the quality of the water that comes out of the city’s taps.
The design concept of the integrated FUD and DEGW team (both brands of the Lombardini22 Group, specialising respectively in brand design and strategic consultancy for office spaces) was the result of bringing together two value systems: the waterworks’ architecture and the element water itself.
This has generated a multilevel image: liquid, transparent, Milanese, cutting-edge, connected.
A concept in which the states of water – solid, liquid, gaseous –are visualised in graphs and turned into three distinctive patterns. Each represents one aspect of the new Milan Waterworks: Architecture, Aqueduct, Digital.
Bringing together architecture and water created the new colour scheme, which combines various shades of blue with the reds of the bricks that are the most distinctive feature of the facade of the old waterworks.
The user experience of Milan Waterworks is comprised of five areas. An immersive, flexible layout geared to different needs and types of visit (cultural, informative, interactive, educational...):
1 – Reception
The reception area welcomes guests and introduces them to the facilities. It is a transition place from solidity (the architecture just passed through) and liquidity (the main hall housing the pumps room). This is an information and rest area.
2 – Library
A meeting space designed for work teams, hosting meetings for small groups/classes, and looking at the books on sale or available on loan.
3 – Main Hall
The nerve centre of the old facility: this is where you can “feel and see” Milan’s water supply as it flows by. In the old water pumps room, 3D visors allow visitors to experience how the waterworks originally operated. Three vertical banners reproduce patterns of the various states of water, guiding visitors and focusing on the height and features of the space. The existing architecture is enhanced and made more functional by designer furnishing accessories, while giant projections on the central wall display underwater images. The gallery leads into the mainhall with its vast array of content: historical, photographic, paper and also digital.
4 – Multipurpose Area
Events, townhall meetings, conferences, shows and workshops can all be catered for, thanks to the flexibility with which this area has been designed. It can, in fact, reproduce totally different scenarios according to the occasion. The walls are covered in graphics outlining the quality of the water and analyses of its distinctive values and traits. A new loft area will host temporary installations and exhibitions, its transparency affords perfect views of the area beneath it and pumps room.
5 – Virtual Reality
This is the most gaseous (digital) area of the new waterworks, whose technology startles visitors and gets then fully engaged in a virtual experience poised between the virtual and real.
This is FUD and DEGW’s interpretation of a modern-day waterworks that should be rooted in the culture and everyday life of all city folk. A beautiful, experiential and engaging place that also raises people’s awareness and informs them, ready to contribute towards future developments.