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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.