Piazza Castello and Buonaparte Forum
The project, requested by the Triennale of Milan and the Municipality of Milan, for the restoration of the square in front of the Sforza Castle represented an opportunity to elaborate a proposal that would return to this very important public space its civil role and its meaning as a collective space derived from its historic and urban development.
The identity of Piazza Castello and its symbolic value are at the basis of the re-elaboration of its appearance and use, re-establishing a bond between the square and the great pedestrian area that connects the square, near to the Museums of the Castle, to the Milan Cathedral, the Galleria and La Scala; to the theatres all around the square and the civil and religious monuments. These elements constitute the identity of the city center of Milan and they allow the city to change according to today’s necessities.
Our project, particularly, proposes a new interpretation of the relationship that runs through the Castle and the city: to re-acquaint ourselves with the civil Forum of Milan by starting with the fortifications in front of the Castle destroyed during the Napoleonic era. These fortifications become the perfect foundations for our project. This public area will be realized in three phases (during and after Expo) and is characterized by a continuous ground in battered earth that absorbs the altitude differences and the multiple barriers that fragment the pedestrian area.
The south entrance of the square in axis with the Cathedral is a “water threshold” that extends from Expogate to the existing fountain. The central part of the square is an open space that reinforces the visual continuity between the cathedral and the main tower of the Castle.
At the sides of the water threshold we want to install 4 thematic gardens – smell, hearing, touch and sight – with a system of different break areas. These gardens are neat systems of rectangular flowerbed-benches of different heights and lengths which, besides being filled with various plants, will contain birches, completing the trees already present in the area so as to create microenvironments and clearings for stalls and kiosks.
The project will maintain the bicycle path, but it will integrate it with the flowerbed-benches and the general plans for the ground.
The project also suggests reusing the moat as a place for leisure and other activities. The part in front of the main façade of the Castle is equipped with a theatre and a number of platforms destined to different uses (performances, breaks and concerts), while on the sides of the castle there are going to be art itineraries and installations that will involve the pedestrian paths inside the walls creating a promenade inside contemporary art.
The relationship between the cultural and physical fundamentals of the site and the start of the new intervention that our endeavor brings, in the case of Piazza Castello coincides with the idea of bringing back to life the fortifications destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century and using them as guidelines for the new public space. Moreover, we tried to confer to our drawing the details and the definition of our project, a quality we have applied to the materials and the solutions devised so as to make the intervention recognizable and coherent, respecting the monumental value of the Castle and the way it communicates with the Milanese urban spaces.
Because it is a public consultation, the project moved from the need to interpret the site not only as a Castle but also as an agglomerate of buildings during the 19th century. This necessity was preemptively communicated by the Municipality and by the Superintendence of Architectural and Environmental Heritage, since the great spaces of the square along with the Castle and the other buildings in the area are some of the most relevant constructions of the area. Great attention has been paid to the pedestrian, bicycle and streetcar paths, with the aim to harmonize the square and its collective use for contemporary events with everyday life
The project was developed with public consultations with the stakeholders and managed by the Municipality of Milan. Therefore, planning was achieved in harmony with the Municipality. This system called for meetings with the various district parties, in order to hear the needs of the citizens and to synchronize the project with the purpose of enhancing the site’s pedestrian paths and gateways, with itineraries and break areas for leisure time and public events; the elimination of architectural barriers and the integration of the bicycle and streetcar paths.
The results of this dialogue with the citizenry were the presented to the Consiglio di Zona and the Municipality, and displayed in a conference-exhibition to the citizens of Milan.
All of the proposed interventions are designed to make them easily reversible, mainly through support systems of the various elements, the use of materials that have low or no environmental impact, easily disposable but also easy to uphold should the pedestrian area be approved. In this sense the various parts have been designed to be free-standing in order to avoid redoing the pavement of the square and other works that would have a high impact on the environment.
The final preliminary project was then presented at the Triennale.