July 14 2014

Milan’s City of Business: Urban Planning in Economic Form

It is both impressive and beautiful to understand the evolution of Milan, simply by looking at its skyline. Like any other Italian city, even if it may not be as pronounced as it is in Rome or Venice, Milan has a central core pattern of architecture.

It’s due to the historic background of the city that the rise of skyscrapers and predominant glass-facades not only brings a strong visual impact, but also physical isolation of the area itself.

Porta Nuova,Garibaldi Area, Milan, Italy

The area of Garibaldi in Milan is an impressive example of “change of scenery.” If you reach Central Station and walk on Giovanni Battista Pirelli Street you will eventually end up in the area of the “Porta Nuova” Project.

The name literally translates to “New Gate” and its aim is to “restore the harmony and the sense of balance of the existing architecture,” while trying to integrate it with other projects in Garibaldi, Varesine, and Isola neighborhoods. However, I would argue that the project is in fact more isolated than ever with respect to the rest of the city.

Porta Nuova,Garibaldi Area, Milan, Italy

Every visitor will agree that there is a strong contrast between this area and the rest of the city. The tall, glass buildings rising out of nowhere, in the background of old Italian buildings – it’s a view hard to miss.

As modernists say “form follows function,” and in the twenty-first century it is clear that skyscrapers are a sign of economic power. If the center of Milan is well-known for its designer boutiques in the fashion district of Quadrilatero della Moda, the area surrounding Garibaldi will sure be remembered as the “business” district of Milan.

This is mainly because of the important headquarters of economic structures which have moved here (Pirelli Tower, Unicredit), but also due to their architecture: tall, glass skyscrapers that can be seen from all corners of the city. The design of the layout and skyline incited a controversial reaction from those arguing that no building should surpass the Duomo Cathedral and the “Madonnina.

Inside Porta Nuova,Garibaldi Area, Milan, Italy

As one of Milan’s various sub-cities, the “business city” of the Garibaldi area is a completely different world integrated within the historic layout. As the pictures show, from the outside view, it outstands in its high dimensions and materials, presenting economy in architectural form. At ground level, this district has little in common with the cozy aspect of Brera, the magic of Colonne, or the night life of Navigli, that are characteristic to Milan’s shape.

If we look at all cities, we can say that “economy” shapes urban planning, and that the business district outstand, by form, the surrounding areas.

Porta Nuova,Garibaldi Area, Milan, Italy

In the case of Milan this is something you can’t miss. So if you ever come visit, make sure to follow “the yellow brick road” materialized in the outstanding view of Porta Nuova’s skyline.

Every city has a different story. How is urban planning shaped by the economy of your city?

Credits: Images 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 Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 9:15 am and is filed under Alexandra Serbana, Architecture, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, 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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