Terrazza Triennale – the restaurant located on the top of Triennale Milano’s Palazzo dell’Arte, one of the most iconic places where to admire Milan –  designed by OBR is a place of strong urban conviviality, a sensitive and interactive space in perpetual evolution by virtue of a continuous dynamic exchange between interior and exterior.

Exhibitions at Triennale Milano have always been a combination of design and experimentation. On such occasions Parco Sempione would turn into a display of new myths for domestic spaces, and Giovanni Muzio’s Palazzo dell’Arte would become a fabulous device for cultural promotion.

Despite being regular visitors to the Triennale since our student days, we had never noticed the terrace, which had remained inaccessible to the public since its opening in 1933. When we stepped on the terrace for the first time during the competition survey, we were taken aback by the unexpected view we enjoyed from the top of the Palazzo dell’Arte: we felt at the center of Milan. Our first intention was to return this “center” location to the people of Milan, endowing this space, which had always been there but had never been enjoyed, with a super-public quality. We also felt as if we were standing on the shoulders of a giant. We wanted to be minimal, to be the least visible as possible. Yet we didn’t want to blend in, but rather act as if what we were doing had always been there. We intended to create a contribution that, although being contemporary from a technical and innovation point of view, would be beyond time and its functions, overlapping the present to the past and the future.

But “building on the built,” as in this case, requires a certain level of reflection: wanting to enhance an existing heritage, the relationship between building and the built must take on a new contemporary meaning within one unified vision. The work in fact is not the sum of its parts but a whole, a unicum. We believe that in building on the built there should be no “style,” but rather a correspondence between constructive and expressive logic.
We envisioned the pavilion as a transparent greenhouse overlooking Parco Sempione.

From the elevated position of the Palazzo dell’Arte terrace, visitors are welcomed by a herb garden developed by landscape designer Antonio Perazzi.
Positioned parallel to the facade overlooking Parco Sempione and set back about 3 meters from the perimeter of the historical building, the pavilion is characterized by a modular stainless-steel structure consisting of seven 4.7-meter bays maintaining the same structural pitch of the arches of Muzio’s Palazzo dell’Arte.

The perimeter of the pavilion can be fully opened on all four sides, with sliding door-windows on the long sides and shifting door-windows on the short ones, creating a fluid continuous space with the terrace, with no corners delimiting its surface.
Entirely glazed even on the roof, the pavilion is protected by a large canopy (about 400 square meters) that can be rolled up on automated rollers. The combined use of the canopy and sliding door-windows allows diversified solutions adapting to the outdoor climatic-environmental conditions and creating a bioclimatic thermoregulating greenhouse. This assures indoor environmental comfort with minimal energy and with different settings throughout the day and seasons. The canopy reduces overheating during the summer months, while in the winter it can be rolled up to allow passive solar gain through direct solar radiation on the glazed roof.

The geometry of the pavilion defines three functional indoor areas: the reception area with the panoramic bar at the eastern end toward Castello Sforzesco; the show cooking area at the western end toward Torre Branca; and the dining area at the center toward Parco Sempione, with various possible configurations. The barman and the chef at the two ends are the two cornerstones welcoming diners at the center, making the Terrazza Triennale into a space open to socialization and culture.

Triennale Milano
President Claudio De Albertis
President Stefano Boeri (from 2018)
Director Andrea Cancellato
Director Carlo Morfini (from 2018 to 2022)
General director Carla Morogallo (from 2022)

Project team:
Milan Ingegneria
Antonio Perazzi
Buro Happold
Maddalena D’Alfonso
Francesco Nastasi
Rossi Bianchi lighting design

OBR design team:
Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi,
Edoardo Allievi, Sidney Bollag,
Francesco Cascella, Andrea Casetto,
Teresa Corbin, Maria Lezhnina,
Caterina Malavolti, Giulia Negri, Cecilia Pastore,
Enrico Pinto, Elisa Siffredi

Cristiano Corte
Gianluca di Ioia
Michele Nastasi

Milan, Italy

site area 620 sqm
built surface 350 sqm

2015 end of construction
2014 detailed design
2014 concept design
2014 preliminary design
2014 design competition (first prize)

2016 AAP American Architecture Prize, New York
2015 In/Arch International Award, Milan