Project for Milan and Lumbardy
| The City
In the Image and Resemblance of Man
Piano urbanistico per Milano, 1967
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Vision and reality
First, a series of quite reasonable measures can derive from such an utopia. A few of them have even been adopted in the meantime, such as some efforts for improving the quality of life in the suburbs or the growing care of the historic patrimony. The other measures proposed by the book are self-evident, such as the necessity of supplementary efforts for preserving the identity of the little towns, or the creation of a highway network (necessarily composed of radials and circulars, thus respecting Milan’s morphology) with the purpose of connecting them together and with the common centre, and finally the realization of large green spaces between the cities, isolating them from the highways…
Is this the utopian plan? On the contrary, it appears today as a common sense plan and, in the future, it is likely to constitute the only answer to the emerging problems of a metropolis. Even the approach to thinking of Milan and its region as a metropolis was proposed by Mazzucconi forty years ago, while only now Milanesi people are starting to be conscious of their city’s dimensions.
Among the reasonable things, we haven’t spoken yet of the future centre, which the plan conceives as composed of two different centres: the ancient one as a void, protected by a highway ring from the metropolis pressure, and the new one as a skyscrapers wall. Once again, we point out that today’s fashionable interest in skyscrapers was preceded by Mazzucconi’ plan which proposed a fantastic concentration of such buildings around the ring, providing even an example of it with his Fiera skyscraper project.
As for today’s centre, it can obviously seem totally foolish to empty it inside the ring, thus demolishing an enormous real estate, not to mention the affection
which the citizens have for their city, no matter if it is not beautiful as we would like it to be, but in the future…everything will change! In fact Milan is a poor city: not in finances but in aesthetics, memories, vision. Most of it has been built in the last century, particularly after the Second World War, while the surviving ancient buildings have been restored, or totally rebuilt maintaining the old facades merely as a decorative scene.
A deep illness corrodes both the ancient and the modern, emptying them of all meanings, unless we consider as an acceptable centre one that will be inhabited only by banks, rich men, tourists and…cars, not to say that it will be necessary to protect it not with the ring of our utopian project but with a real barbed wire net…
While we are at the threshold of a frightening future, we live in a city that behaves very much as if the emerging problems didn’t exist, unaware of the future as well as the past. Only the present, with its apparent richness but also with the pollution and the first taste of the immigration problems, seems to interest the citizens.
Meanwhile history proceeds and we know that, in history, there are also catastrophes, death, violent transformations, which we ought to understand as aspects of life itself or even as impulses to a new life, in the city as in any other thing.
Therefore we must learn how to think about the city in a more profound way and with an overall view, in order to be prepared for the day in which the city that we love in spite of its defects will disappear or at any rate will be subject to radical changes, in order to open the way to the construction of a new city.
The great bet is that such a new city will not be a monster like so many others metropolis of our time, but, on the contrary, a city so marvellous that the book has even anticipated its name: “Ambrosia”.
Even this is quite reasonable. Do you know that Milan even now is called the Metropoli Ambrosiana?