While the new, more than 200-metre-long building on Porta Volta represents a foreign body in Milan’s dense urban mesh, through the references it makes to the historical and morphological context it is integrated in its surroundings. The new building follows the line of the old city wall and creates an urban square. In the architects’ master plan together with a twin building still to be realised it ­emphasises the gateway situation on Via Alessandro Volta.

The two parts of the new building are separated by a narrow gap: the longer section, directly adjoining the historic gateway, accommodates offices for Microsoft. The Feltrinelli Foundation – initiator of the project – recently moved into the shorter, eastern section. This building has a book shop with café on the ground floor and a two-storey events space above it, while the Foundation’s offices occupy the upper floors. A reading room under the steep pitched roof has a magnificent view of the city.

The building’s primary structure consists of concrete frames arranged on a strict grid that create the familiar image of a simple, pitched roof volume.