SOM to lead the design of the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic Village

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) won an international competition to design the Olympic Village for the Olympic Games Milan-Cortina 2026 in Milan, Italy.
Image © SOM / Pixelflakes

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) will design the Olympic Village for the 2026 Olympic Games Milan-Cortina as part of the updated master plan for the Porta Romana marshalling yard in Milan, Italy. The company was selected to design the project after an international competition involving 27 groups comprising 71 studios from nine countries.

Developed by COIMA SGR and its partners in collaboration with the Milano-Cortina Foundation, the Municipality of Milan and the Lombardy region, the Olympic Village will transform the Porta Romana district, creating a sustainable urban community and offering a new model of Olympic facilities to serve post-Olympic social goals. Through innovative sustainability features, the village will target minimal environmental impact in line with the requirements for Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB).

Designed to become an integral part of the urban fabric of Milan, the village includes a set of public green spaces, the transformation of two historic structures and six new residential buildings serving Olympic athletes in the short term. After the Olympics, the athletes’ houses will be reused for student accommodation; the park and buildings on the railway side near Olympic Square will be used for affordable housing; and the Olympic Village Square will become a neighborhood plaza, with shops, bars, restaurants and cafes planned at street level, as well as an outdoor space for farmers’ markets and other community events.

“Rather than cease to be used after the Olympic Games, the Olympic Village of Porta Romana will ultimately become a dynamic and autonomous district built around the principles of social equity, environmental commitment, well-being and inclusion” , said Colin Koop, SOM design partner. “The village takes on the rhythm of the region’s streetscape, creating a porous urban block with a variety of public spaces and communal anchors that will enhance the vibrant tapestry of ground-floor experiences in Milan.”

The new buildings are inspired by historic buildings in Milan, while showcasing contemporary materials and spectacular communal terraces. Shaded by vertical plantings, these terraces serve as bridges between buildings, becoming iconic gathering spaces and open-air study rooms for students and lending the complex a sense of energy and life on all levels. Incorporating greenery into outdoor spaces will contribute to the neighborhood’s climate resilience and create space for urban farms allowing on-site food production.

The Olympic Village is designed according to the principles of a smart and sustainable city, creating a complex that is both connected and autonomous. The village’s mechanical systems will be linked to the enclosure loops, but passive cooling strategies, solar panels and rooftop gardens, among others, will ensure that more than 30% of the energy used will be produced on site. Stormwater will be collected on site and reused, with a reduction in drinking water consumption of more than 50 percent and carbon dioxide (CO2) 40% reduction for heating and cooling. In addition, the new buildings maximize the use of sustainable materials, from the solid wood structure of residential buildings to low carbon facade materials.

The Olympic Village is part of the larger Parco Romana project for which an updated master plan, developed following an extensive public engagement process, has been unveiled. The updated plan strengthens elements of public space, such as Central Park, eco-zones (green corridors which may include public spaces such as sports fields, children’s play areas or urban gardens), and a hanging forest to connect the east and west sides of the site, for which a feasibility study is underway. The volumes of planned projects are now better distributed, improving dialogue with the surrounding territories and offering more activation at ground level.

Construction of the Olympic Village is expected to be completed by July 2025.

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