SOM to lead design of 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympic Village

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

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) will design the Olympic Village for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics as part of the updated Porta Romana railway yard master plan in Milan, Italy. The firm was selected to design the project following 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 for Olympic facilities to serve post-Olympic social goals. Thanks to innovative sustainability features, the village will target minimal environmental impact in accordance with nearly zero energy building (NZEB) requirements.

Designed to become an integral part of Milan’s urban fabric, the village encompasses a set of public green spaces, the transformation of two historic structures, and six new residential buildings to serve Olympic athletes in the short term. Following the Olympics, the athletes’ homes will be reused for student housing; the park and railway side buildings near the Olympic Square will be used for affordable housing; and the Olympic Village Plaza will become a neighbourhood square, with shops, bars, restaurants, and cafés planned at street level, along with outdoor space for farmers’ markets and other community events.

“Rather than ceasing to be of use after the Olympics, the Porta Romana Olympic Village will ultimately become a vibrant, self-sustaining neighbourhood built around the principles of social equity, environmental commitment, wellness, and inclusivity,” said Colin Koop, SOM design partner. “The village adopts the rhythm of the area’s streetscape, creating a porous urban block with a variety of public spaces and communal anchors that will enhance Milan’s vibrant tapestry of ground-floor experiences.”

The new buildings take architectural inspiration from Milan’s historic buildings, while featuring contemporary materials and dramatic communal terraces. Shaded by vertical plantings, these terraces serve as bridges between the buildings, becoming signature gathering spaces and outdoor study rooms for students and lending the complex a sense of energy and life on every level. The integration of greenery within the outdoor areas will contribute to the neighbourhood’s climate resilience, and create space for urban farms enabling onsite food production.

Olympic Village is designed according to the principles of a smart and sustainable city, creating a complex that is at once connected and self-sufficient. The village’s mechanical systems will tie into the precinct’s loops, yet passive cooling strategies, solar panels, and rooftop gardens—among other features—will ensure more than 30 per cent of the energy utilized will be produced onsite. Stormwater will be collected onsite and reused, with a reduction in drinking water use by over 50 per cent and a carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction of 40 per cent for heating and cooling. Additionally, the new buildings maximize the use of sustainable materials, from the mass timber structure of the residential buildings to low-embodied carbon façade materials.

The Olympic Village forms part of the broader Parco Romana project for which an updated master plan, developed following an extensive public engagement process, has been unveiled. The updated plan reinforces elements of the public space, such as the Central Park, eco-zones (green corridors that will be able to include public areas such as sports pitches, children’s play areas, or urban gardens), and a suspended forest to connect the eastern and western sides of the site, for which a feasibility assessment is underway. The volumes of the planned projects have now been distributed more evenly, improving the dialogue with the surrounding areas and providing more activation at ground level.

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

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