Office complex “Green Place” in Milan: diversity in a checkerboard pattern

Office building with bamboo slats infront of the glazed façades

The contemporary office building "Green Place" has been awarded LEED Certification in Gold for sustainable building. Source: Stefano Gusmeroli –

Roof garden in the courtyard

An extensive green roof was installed on the lowest of the three buildings and photovoltaic panels on the two higher roofs. The elaborate roof garden is installed in the courtyard. Source: Stefano Gusmeroli –

Chess pattern created by the plants and pathway areas

The pattern created by the most diverse plants and pathway areas resembles a chess board. Source: Stefano Gusmeroli –

Bamboo slats infront of the glazed façades

Looking outwards between the bamboo slats that are used as a sun shade, the haven of tranquillity garden catches the eye.

Illuminated roof garden in the courtyard at night

At night-time, the lighting creates a fascinating atmosphere on the roof garden. Source: Stefano Gusmeroli –

The contemporary office complex "Green Place" is in the heart of Viale Certosa, the most important business district in the north of Milan. The "Green Place" is particularly appealing due to its roof garden, approx. 1,100 m² in size, around which the three office buildings are situated. The plant beds in a checkerboard pattern help to create the geometric image which has become a particular highlight thanks to the unique lighting concept used there. In addition, ZinCo green roof systems have been used to create an extensive green roof across a roof area of almost 400 m² and photovoltaic panels have been installed on a further 1,000 m² of roof area. "Green Place" has been awarded LEED Certification in Gold for sustainable building.

Milan's renowned architectural practice, Goring & Straja Studio, designed "Green Place" for the international real estate investment company, STAM Europe. The building complex was completed in 2014 under the management of general contractors Percassi. Approx. 7,300 m² of underground garage and more than 10,000 m² of office space are spread across the three buildings A, B and C. Building C with its two storeys forms a link between the two main buildings, each with five storeys. Behind the large, glazed façades on the ground floor, each building has its own individual lobby and a car showroom. The entire layout emphasises the roof garden as a common focal point. Because the new building complex connects seamlessly to the existing buildings, a courtyard is created that is typical of the traditional style of residential building found in Milan. However, instead of a rustic courtyard atmosphere, we have here a clearly structured garden with specially selected plant beds and varying geometric shapes. In addition, the linear, slatted bamboo structure of the façade fits in perfectly in the overall concept and, to an extent, lends structure to the building and plays with light and shadow. This concept, so carefully planned and designed by the architects, requires the right technology if it is to be properly implemented.

Ensuring drainage on the roof

The experienced landscape gardeners, Peverelli, were responsible for the green roof works. The ZinCo green roof system "Roof Garden" was installed on a professionally fitted and already root-resistant roof waterproof membrane. The first layer then to be installed was the ZinCo Protection Mat SSM 45. This was followed by the drainage and water retention element Floradrain® FD 40-E. This element, 40 mm in depth, retains water in its troughs and safely draws off excess water through the underlying channel system. As this element is installed across the entire area, drainage beneath the pathways is also ensured. The next layer is the System Filter SF, followed by about 30 cm of system substrate that includes both top soil and a mineral element. The substrate depth in the planters was increased in order to provide sufficient space for the root balls of the trees to be planted there. These trees were also anchored firmly.

The system build-up "Roof Garden" provides a permanently reliable base both for all greenery, from ground cover plants to trees, for different types of pathway and for various superstructures, such as the planter edgings. This base is suitable for all possible design ideas.

Diversity in a checkerboard pattern

The different types of plants used, the light and dark materials for the pathways and the planter edgings create a fabulous frenzy of diverse colours, forms, heights and functions, in the middle of which the checkerboard pattern always re-establishes order.

21 Chinese Wild Pear trees, planted as individual trees in the planters shape the overall picture. Wide cover panels adorn the planter edgings and at the same time provide seating on which comfortable cushions can be placed.

Planters positioned irregularly across the roof garden alternate both with pavements made with slabs, paving stones and black gravel, and with numerous large, rectangular, similar-size monoculture plant beds that are laid out in groups to resemble a checkerboard. The beds contain very different plants for this reason: here we have the evergreen shrubs Japanese Mock Orange, over there Golden Bamboo and Leatherleaf Sedge, here again we have Lilyturf Monroe White, over there scented Star Jasmine, always in an alternating pattern, which is what creates the special texture.

Using a dark fleece covering for the plant beds creates optic clarity and at the same time reduces water evaporation at the surface. Regular irrigation of the plants is ensured thanks to the drip-line irrigation system installed in the substrate.

At night-time, an ingenious lighting system provides for atmospheric illumination on the elaborate roof garden, as numerous metre-high rod-shaped lamps create a bizarre light pattern.

Of value to the environment

In addition to the 1,100 m² roof garden, there is an extensive green roof of approx. 400 m² on building C. Here, the ZinCo system build-up "Sedum Carpet" was used in conjunction with the drainage and water retention element Floradrain® FD 25-E, 25 cm in depth, which reliably controls the water balance. A substrate depth of about 8 cm is sufficient for this low-maintenance, self-perpetuating sedum type.

The various types of green roof in the office complex "Green Place", combined with the photovoltaic panels on buildings A and B, have contributed to LEED Certification in Gold being awarded. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognised classification system that defines a series of standards for environmental, resource-saving and sustainable building.


"Green Place", with its unique roof garden, is a new phenomenon in the architectural landscape of Milan. Laid out in a strict geometric pattern, the garden is a constant eye catcher and a haven of tranquillity from the surrounding office buildings. At the same time, it is a vibrant venue for work breaks and meetings and for larger events held by the occupant companies. A superb work of art has been created with this garden, with great attention given to light, colour and form, providing a coherent element within the overall architecture of the complex. Finally, an essential factor for the implementation of such a design is always the right choice of system technology, in order to ensure that the green roof will be permanently reliable and achieve true sustainability.

Author: Vincent de Haas, ZinCo GmbH

Site board

Construction project: “Green Place” office complex, Viale Certosa 144, 20122 Milan, Italy

Client: STAM Europe, 75002 Paris, France

Construction year: 2014

Roof area: approx. 1,500 m² 

Green roof build-up: ZinCo system build-up “Roof Garden“ with Floradrain® FD 40-E and ”Sedum Carpet“ with Floradrain® FD 25-E

Architect: Goring & Straja Studio, 20135 Milan, Italy

General contractor: Percassi S.p.A., Via Nino Zucchelli 2, 24023 Clusone, Italy

Green roof contractor: Peverelli srl., Via Oberdan 2, 22073 Fino Mornasco, Italy

System supplier: ZinCo GmbH, Lise-Meitner-Str. 2, 72622 Nuertingen, Germany

For further information, please contact:

ZinCo GmbH
Lise-Meitner-Str. 2
72622 Nuertingen

Tel. +49 7022 6003-0