BASE Milano

Milan, IT
Photo by Municipality of Milan
A former industrial complex now incubating creative businesses


BASE Milano is a cultural centre that emerged in the ex-Ansaldo complex, a complex for the mechanical industries originally built between 1904 and 1923. The centres encourage cultural contamination between arts, businesses, technology and social innovation. It stimulates creative production through 12.000m2 of working, exhibition, performance and events spaces. There is also an artist in residence programme.


Outside city centre


The building in which BASE Milano is housed was built as an electromechanical plant in 1904. Occupied by different companies, the area of the plant expanded until it consolidated in the 1930s. In 1966, the complex was taken over by Ansaldo to produce train and tram rails. In the 1980s, it lost its function and became abandoned. This co-incited with the general cease of industrial activities in the neighbourhood, which used to be characterised by large industrial plants. In 1989, the whole deindustrialised area was purchased by the Municipality of Milan, who allocated the area for the development of cultural services. [1;2]

BASE Milano aims to create connections between artistic and creative disciplines to generate innovation and entrepreneurship and acts as an incubator for creative businesses. Since 2016, there have been several initiatives housed in the complex. The BASE burò offers (co-)working spaces for cultural and creative projects and offers incubation services for emerging start-ups. It provides space for initiatives that fully align with the mission to foster innovation in the creative industries. casaBASE is a guesthouse that offers accommodation for those involved in cultural and artistic projects at BASE, ranging from shared rooms to en-suite facilities.

Furthermore, the complex houses a bar and restaurant and has different (indoor and outdoor) stages and spaces that can be rented for performances, exhibitions and other public and private events. There are also dedicated rooms for the production of music. So far, BASE Milano has hosted and been home to hundreds of cultural and creative events and educational activities, often delivered in collaboration with a wide range of organisations from various sectors. [1;3]


Heritage utilized
Building(s) and/or monumental structures
Cultural and Creative Industries
Creative industries; Entertainment


The Municipality of Milan owns the complex from which BASE Milano operates. At the start of the initiative, the municipality has selected the first beneficiaries of the space, a group of five different socially-oriented organisations. These five organisations have formed a self-financed private, non-profit social enterprise under the name of Oxa Srl Impresa Sociale. This social enterprise, in cooperation with a wide range of individuals, organisations and businesses, implements the different activities. The CDA (Administration Council), composed of four people, is an associates’ advisory board that determines the administrative positions. The operational side is overseen by an executive board and approximately 14 staff members (2019). [1]


Governance arrangement
Hybrid governance
Organisational form
Non-Profit Entity
Stakeholders involved in implementation
Local government; Non-government organisation/non-profit organisation

Business Model

An estimated €14.000.000 has been invested in the project. Part of the total investment has been financed through a €700.000 convertible loan (quasi-equity) from Fondazione Social Venture Giordano Dell’Amore, a local impact investor. [4]

BASE aims to receive contributions from individuals and organisations. Because it adheres to the Art Bonus Programme, a national tax relief scheme aimed at safeguarding cultural heritage and promoting cultural and touristic development. Under this programme, donations in cash are eligible for a 65% tax credit. [1]


Initial investment
Type of financial resources utilized
Donations; Membership fees; Revenue generated through organisational activities; Earmarked public budget
Source of financial resources
Public local authority’s budget; Funds provided by non-profit governmental organisation; Private Foundation/Trust
Non-financial contributions


  1. BASE Milano, initiative website,, accessed on 30/07/2021

  2. MUMI, Polyedra Polytechnic of Milan (2016), available on, accessed on 30/07/2021

  3. City Council of Milan, municipal website,, accessed on 30/07/2021

  4. Fondazione Social Venture Giordano Dell’Amore, BASE (OXA Social Enterprise),, accessed on 19/01/2022