November 27 2013

Is Parco Sud a Park or Agricultural Land?: A Southern Milan Debate

Parks have always been considered as green spaces for recreational use. Lately, urban planning policies have been expanding their definition by providing significant attention to different types of green spaces across the city – and their functionalities.

“The Rural Park of South Milan,” also known as “Parco Sud,” is an example of how diverse a park can be. It was designed with the purpose of preserving, safeguarding, and enhancing the natural and historical heritage from the expansion of the city. The park is a large protected rural area located on the southwest part of the Milan Urban Region. Established in 1990, it is 47,000 hectares wide and shaped like a half-circle, and connects two other large protected natural areas: Ticino Park to the west and Adda Park to the east.

Milan and Parco Sud, Milan, Italy

Parco Sud, Milan, Italy

The territory is characterized by the presence of strong infrastructure (highways, railways) that connect the centre of Milan with the other major towns in this metropolitan region (LodiPiacenza, Abbiategrasso-Vigevano, Pavia).

The park comprises different functional areas such as agricultural land, river basins, sparse woodlands, a large number of farms (also known as “cascine”), local city parks (Parco delle CaveBoscoincittà, and Trenno Park), and historical monuments like the Chiaravalle Abbey.

There are many strategies regarding the development of this large park. The Milan PGT proposes to transform the perception of Parco Sud by enhancing the landscape park with recreational activities and sports facilities. The results of its analysis emphasizes which parts can be improved according to this idea, taking into consideration its accessibility, and the proximity to residential parts. It also tries to understand which parts should keep their agricultural designation.

Parco Sud, Milan, Italy

Furthermore, Expo 2015 is trying to develop multifunctional activities and a production of services linked both with agricultural activities and the use/renewal of the natural environment. It aims at creating a system of services and infrastructure to redefine the characteristics of Milan’s metropolitan region, including the city proper and Parco Sud, towards a “metro agriculture” innovation and sustainalbility. The role of the independently owned farms inside the park is important in order to transform them into an important resource of sustainability, through social cohesion, and environmental requalification. Their scattered structures of the abbeys and farmhouses are in many cases of historical value, and also represent a statement of the region’s agricultural tradition. The reconstruction of the buildings and surroundings can also bring a higher touristic value to the area.

Inside a farm of Parco Sud, Milan Italy

Nevertheless, the role of the park near the boundaries of Milan is still confused by the opposite position of safeguarding against land consumption and real estate interest. And while Parco Sud represents Milan’s green belt, its infinite view of agricultural land makes it hard to be perceived as a park. This is mostly due to its lack of transversal connectivity, recreational elements, and a pedestrian-friendly design.

In your opinion, is urban agriculture the theme for our future parks?

Credits: Photographs by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.

Alexandra Serbana

Because of her strong background in Urban Planning and Design, from her bachelor’s at “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra decided to pursue planning from the perspective of policy and decision-making. She is passionate about traveling and experimenting with new cities, and moved to Milan, Italy where she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design at Politecnico di Milano. The experience of working and living in the multicultural city of Milan has sparked her interest in the reaction of urban places to new real-estate developments, as well as conflict resolution for urban design projects that reorganize urban city life. She hopes to make an improvement on the way cities deal with physical urban changes and their effect on the quality of social and environmental life.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 at 9:47 am and is filed under Energy, Environment, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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