Milan, Gio Ponti and the new face of Enel

Published on Friday, 7 June 2019

“The most resistant element is neither cement, nor wood, nor stone, nor steel, nor glass. The most resistant element in construction is art,” said Gio Ponti, the architect who designed the building on via Carducci, which since 1962 has served as the Enel Group’s Milanese headquarters. June 3 marked the official presentation of the building’s new look, after a renovation that has restored the structure to its rightful position among the city’s most prestigious workplaces.  

Present at the opening were Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, Enel Chairman Patrizia Grieco and Enel’s Head of Country, Italy Carlo Tamburi. Mr Tamburi played host, explaining how the building’s restyling was deliberately “sober and carefully calibrated, shaped by a desire to recover the existing assets, in this case a structure of great historic value, and the wellbeing of those who work there, which is one of the distinctive values of our Group. This has been achieved by providing plenty of light, excellent air quality and soundproofing.” 

The central concern behind the transformation of the interior spaces is attention to people and their needs: 500 fixed work stations, a floor designed entirely for smart working, the “Energy Auditorium”, a social dining area, a multipurpose games space also intended for sports and meeting rooms with video-conferencing facilities that can be reserved via an App.

“As a native of Milan,” said Patrizia Grieco, “I am pleased to be giving this building back to the city. The theme of the city is an important one as the future of humankind is moving towards increasing urbanisation, and this will pose great challenges in terms of social relations and the need to create new spaces. Gio Ponti was an architect who looked to the future with optimism, and human beings were always at the centre of his vision – just as they are for us. For us, sustainability is vital, and we believe we should work side-by-side with the institutions, because only together can we confront these challenges.”

Mayor Sala pointed out that Milan is a city that is used to a concrete approach to life. “We like to talk about creating wealth and the future of cities, of ways to develop a new social context. Yet all this is just hot air if there is no close collaboration between public and private spheres, if there are no companies that are prepared to play their part by taking on the risks this commitment entails – especially in the context of the energy and environmental policies through which companies like this, a large Italian enterprise, have become engineers of change.”

This change is also reflected by the building on via Carducci, which combines traditional lines with the functionality of the huge open spaces and new materials, creating a harmonious interplay that retains the original spirit of the architecture while reshaping the spaces, enlarging them, giving them more light and adapting them to the needs of a modern office. As Gio Ponti said himself, “conserving Italian architecture means only one thing – preserving the time-honoured Italian energy expressed through constant change.” An opinion that could almost have been tailor-made to describe our Group’s philosophy. 

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