Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) is planning to bring something of the Italian countryside to inner-city Milan with its Vitae project. The eye-catching building will host research facilities, offices and a restaurant, and will be covered in greenery, including a vineyard.

Vitae (life in Latin) was the subject of an architecture competition and will begin construction later this year on a vacant lot in a former industrial area in the south of the city.

The mixed-use office building will host a restaurant on the ground floor, with offices situated on the floors above. Elsewhere will be a scientific research center and guest rooms for the researchers.

Like Stefano Boeri's Boscoe Verticale, which is also located in Milan, Vitae's defining feature is its greenery, which is extensive and includes a 200-m (650-ft)-long urban vineyard that covers much of the building. There will also be flowers and plants, as well as greenhouses producing food. Additionally, a publicly accessible footpath will ascend from street level to a rooftop garden.

"Vitae tries to address humankind's innate 'biophilia,' as formulated by the great American biologist Edward O. Wilson," says CRA's Saverio Panata, project manager of Vitae. "We are talking about the natural tendency of our species to seek our happiness through immersion in nature. Thanks to new technologies, it is now possible to achieve this goal even in the heart of the city – this is particularly relevant in a building that is devoted to scientific research."

In addition to the main building, the Vitae project will involve the creation of a new piazza, creating over 5,000 sq m (roughly 53,800 sq ft) of public space.

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