LOCATION Milan, Italy
YEAR 2009
STATUS Project
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Tomaso Monestiroli, Claudia Tinazzi, Marcello Bondavalli

The exceptional size of the area that has become available, the location that has become central to the city, the relationship with the transportation network, and the proximity to its urban deliveries make Scalo Farini an important and strategic place, a part of the city that needs to be rethought and built upon. How? According to what idea of the city? With what principles and elements? The choice of the city administration in favor of a logic of consolidating the central core of Milan through the settlement of large amounts of housing requires fulfilling a first condition, the insertion of the new neighborhood into the system of public and private road and rail infrastructure, which needs to be reconsidered and adequately enhanced.

A second, important condition so that this area does not become an inner-city periphery concerns the activities settled: these must be diverse, mixed and above all provide services of urban interest capable of building a new center open to the city. The multiplicity of functions corresponds to the richness and articulation of collective and private spaces; architecture has the task of becoming the interpreter of this richness, giving character and quality to the places. On the basis of these considerations, we approached the theme of design, which is urgent in the contemporary city, with the intention of responding to several objectives: to define the compositional principles on which to base the construction of a new part of the city; to specify what are the collective places and their character, what are the relationships between buildings and open spaces, what is the role of greenery, the relationship between services and residential buildings, between commerce and other activities. These are all issues present in the projects of the Modern Movement and even more so in those of Milanese architects in the years of reconstruction.

The presence of the tracks and the large rail yard have kept separate parts of the city that have grown independent until today, hindering the joining of the concentric axes of the Beruto plan. Against the railroad the blocks originating from Corso Sempione came to a halt; to the east the neighborhood that became “the island,” organized around the ancient road to Como; to the north the more peripheral settlements grew up, in relation to the nuclei of Dergano, Affori and Bovisa, along the railroad and the routes that innervated the territory outside Milan. The city bypassed the stopover and since the turn of the century has grown beyond it, leaving its role as a separating void unchanged over time.

Urban axes and relations
Here the interrupted axes that structure the city and its territory converge, identifying a focal point located on the northwest vertex of this almost triangular area. From here it is possible to organize a hierarchy within the settlement that distinguishes and articulates the places that will constitute the neighborhood. The exceptionality of the northwest head of the system corresponds, in the project, to the urban exceptionality of the activities settled and the architecture that represents them: a system of towers that house tertiary and receptive activities, organized around a square that becomes the center of the in-settlement, concluded by a classroom building intended for cultural activities aimed at the entire city.

The order and lay of the settlement are decided by the railroad. Parallel to the tracks also runs a suburban express road, which has a single point of access within the neighborhood. The road infrastructure system is defined according to a hierarchical principle, with the aim of keeping the settlement area unified. The urban and suburban road system is located along the outer edges with two express roads. A new road
urban connects the blocks to the south, along the park boundary; finally, the internal roads, of different caliber and hierarchy, define a regular mesh of large green islands of about 140 meters on a side, within which the buildings are arranged.

Public green system
The settlement is built in greenery, part planted park, part lawn plots bordered by rows of trees: both one and the other are for collective use. The presence of greenery and the definition of the relationship between built, open and green spaces is an inescapable theme of confrontation in the construction of the modern city, an achievement of twentieth-century architectural culture that has become indispensable.
In the project, it was decided to concentrate the built-up area in a portion of the area to create a large wooded public park; this is entrusted with the role of connecting the neighborhoods separated by the railroad, keeping their now established individuality distinct. Through the large wooded park, pedestrian and bicycle paths establish the relationship between the two parts of the city.
Long rows of trees emphasize the axes that structure the neighborhood, distinguish their importance and identify the lawn plots that take the place of the old urban blocks, welcoming the new buildings. The greenery, a constituent element of the new settlement, takes on different qualities, forms and characters in relation to the relationships it establishes with the built environment, its measurements and treatment.

Public space: piazza, Rambla, dogana
On the opposite side from the main square is located a second pole of collective activities, which, inside the old customs house, houses elementary school and sports activities, gyms and swimming pools open to the city.
The two poles are connected by an axis verstructuring the entire neighborhood, a Rambla along which the main commercial and collective activities serving the settlement are distributed. On an axis parallel to the Rambla are located the other collective and commercial services to the neighborhood.

Residence, services and workshops
The theme of defining the residential unit, of a minimum repeatable unit, belongs to the history of the city: the construction of the block bounded by streets, in ever-changing forms but on the basis of the same principle, is the way cities are built until the 20th century. What replaces the city block in the fabric of the modern city? Is it still necessary to define a settlement principle for housing, the quantitatively most important urban element in the construction of the city, a principle that re-proposes the richness of place proper to the ancient city? In the project, residences overlook the green, the lawn of large open courtyards that belong to each house, tree-lined avenues and parkland. The old closed blocks open up and change in nature. The presence of services in the courtyards introduces a principle of variation that allows places to be distinguished and makes the courtyards themselves vital and frequented, recognizable, different from one another. Their openness makes the greenery traversable, perceptually multiplies its extension and allows for a relationship with the central spaces of the neighborhood.


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