‘tree of knowledge’ library by noa* in milan, italy
Within the tranquil Porta Vittoria neighborhood in Milan, Italy, the European Library of Information and Culture (BEIC) proposal by noa* is intended to serve as a center for creation that inspires and liberates the mind. Titled ‘the Tree of Knowledge’, the project was flanked by the development of a natural landscape that permeates all spaces, while an organic roof ring —the library’s distinctive architectural feature— unexpectedly houses a blossoming park.
‘Just as the cover of a book contains a story to dive into, the new European library conceals under a green landscape a knowledge available to anyone who wants to grasp it.’ the studio explains.
all images courtesy of Dima Visualization
blurring the limits between inside and outside
Imbued with surreal atmospheres of rooftop forests and flying books, the new cultural center places the visitor in the ideal condition to explore uncharted territories. The starting point of the project was the research into the meaning, usage, and features of a 21st-century library. The team at noa* reimagined it as a hub of creativity, with the aim to create a stimulating setting for acquiring new knowledge. The resulting design generates a relaxed and quiet atmosphere, a hybrid environment where the line between inside and outside becomes blurred.
The intricate architectural framework was flanked by the creation of the natural landscape, which permeates all spaces. The structure incorporates an organic roof, which serves as the trademark of the library, and houses a flourishing park. This is to be viewed in the context of urban parklands as a whole, of which the BEIC is an important component. Although the architecture is noticeably introverted, the volume emerging from the ground also expands over part of Porta Vittoria Park, making accessibility one of the key elements of the project.
recreating an earthly eden
The library houses nine floors in total: the main one is located on the first level, where a sinuous promenade allows the complete crossing of the building. In an evocative spatial experience, the visitor is invited to discover the rich functional program on the interior boulevard. Access to the outside, a natural continuation of the interior spaces,
is provided on every floor. Meanwhile, a circular study room for 200 people, with a 360° view over Milan, vertically closes the building. To reach it, one ascends a one-of-a-kind elevator, a proper tower of books, picked up as needed by an automated system.
Through this astonishing landscape of moving books, the highest point of the BEIC is reached. It feels like climbing a tree after having walked through a lush garden. And not by chance, since the archetype that inspired the team of architects is the Garden of Eden, where the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil grows. The biblical episode linked to it is perhaps one of the narratives philosophers have drawn on most to portray humanity. On the roof of the BEIC, studio noa*wanted to recreate an earthly Eden, where we could celebrate the beauty of knowledge and continually encourage people to reach out to unknown worlds.