Pirelli Hangar Bicocca
Pirelli HangarBicocca is a non-profit foundation born in Milan in 2004 from the conversion of an industrial plant into an institution dedicated to the production and promotion of contemporary art. Dynamic place of experimentation and research, with its 15,000 square meters, it is among the largest horizontally developed exhibition spaces in Europe and every year presents important personal exhibitions by Italian and international artists. Each exhibition project is conceived in close relationship with the architecture of the building and is accompanied by a program of collateral events and in-depth study. Access to the space and exhibitions is totally free and the dialogue between public and art is favored by the presence of cultural mediators. Since 2013 Vicente Todolí is the Artistic Director. The building, once the site of a factory for the construction of locomotives, includes an area dedicated to services to the public and educational activities and three exhibition spaces characterized by the visible presence of the original architectural elements of the last century: the Shed, the Aisles, and the Cube. The Navate, in addition to the area dedicated to temporary exhibitions, host the famous permanent work of Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Celestial Palaces 2004-2015, which since the inauguration of its seven reinforced concrete towers, has made Pirelli HangarBicocca one of the places to don't miss in Milan.
The history of the Pirelli HangarBicocca building is closely linked to Breda, a company founded in 1886 by the engineer Ernesto Breda who, starting in 1903, moves the company to the Bicocca district. Like him, Pirelli, Falck and Marelli also do, transforming the area into one of the most important industrial settlements in Italy. In the 200,000 square meters of the new factories, Breda mainly produces railway carriages, electric and steam locomotives, boilers, agricultural machines and tools to which, during the First World War, the manufacture of planes, bullets and other war-related products is added.
Among these plants there is also Pirelli HangarBicocca, then divided into different buildings by type, origin and extension. The "Shed", for example, a typically industrial building made of exposed bricks, of reduced height, with double-pitched roofs and large skylights, is already recognizable in the images dating back to the first half of the 1920s and is a place of production of components for locomotives and agricultural machinery.
In 1955 Breda Elettromeccanica e Locomotive expands its spaces with the addition of a barrel-vaulted cubic building which today at Pirelli HangarBicocca is the exhibition space called "Cubo". The monumental building that connects the Shed to the Cube, today called "Navate", was erected between 1963 and 1965 to be destined for the transformer department. Here was the assembly and testing of high-powered electrical machines. Remained intact in size - 9,500 square meters for about thirty meters in height - the building is characterized by three naves, one of which, since 2004, has housed the Seven Heavenly Palaces of the German artist Anselm Kiefer. Deposits and shacks, demolished around 2000, stood in the garden where La Sequenza di Fausto Melotti has been located since 2010.
In the early 1980s, Breda was sold to the Ansaldo Group and a progressive process of divestment of the historic industrial areas began almost simultaneously in favor of an almost total urban reorganization of the Bicocca district. With the creation of university buildings, business centers and private residences that develop around the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, the Bicocca Project started in 1986 began the redevelopment of the old Pirelli plants. After a decade of abandonment, Pirelli HangarBicocca (ex Ansaldo 17) is finally purchased by Prelios, formerly Pirelli RE, who in 2004 decided to transform it into an exhibition space for contemporary art.