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Parco Romana

FROM DISUSED RAILWAY SITE TO MIXED-USE DISTRICT WITH LARGE CITY PARK

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In Milan, an industrial wasteland will soon be transformed into a new lively neighbourhood with numerous green spaces. The mixed-use neighbourhood creates both working and living spaces, with particular emphasis on sustainable aspects. The centrepiece of the development is a large city park, which is being built on a disused railway line and offers the city a new green corridor with a unique view.

The international team - consisting of the renowned architecture firms OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Arup and Carlo Ratti Associati - is responsible for the designs for the transformation. The urban redevelopment project Parco Romana takes its name from the district in which it is being built: Porta Romana. The disused railway site, on which the new district will extend, will in future connect the south-east of the city with the city centre.

The heart of the new quarter will be a large urban park. © OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Arup and Carlo Ratti Associati

The heart of the new quarter will be a large urban park. © OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Arup and Carlo Ratti Associati

Design to create connections and public spaces

The new development is intended to create an inviting public space that is not only characterised by its great biodiversity. What is also special about the design is that it works with the existing buildings on site instead of demolishing them. In appreciation of the industrial heritage of the site, disused infrastructures are revitalised through contemporary, ecologically oriented planning.

Until now, a now unused railway line has separated parts of the area. The new plans envisage that these fragmented sections will be merged into a common urban space. Furthermore, the aim is to connect the surrounding neighbourhoods with the soon-to-be vibrant and mixed-use neighbourhood, which will follow the principles of inclusion, resilience, well-being, connectivity and biodiversity.

Great emphasis has also been placed in the plans on creating shared living and working environments for a range of different user groups. Whether students, residents, professionals, sports enthusiasts or visitors, Parco Romana is designed to cater for all.

The architectural team's design shows the green transformation of the derelict area, integrated into the surrounding urban context. | © OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Arup and Carlo Ratti Associati

The architectural team's design shows the green transformation of the derelict area, integrated into the surrounding urban context. | © OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Arup and Carlo Ratti Associati

Renewable energies, circular economy, biodiversity

Overall, sustainability measures in particular provide a framework for the entire development. The plans are in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the European Green Deal and the UN National Recovery & Resilience Plan. In particular, the focus is on climate adaptation as well as creating resilient communities, boosting circular economy and increasing biodiversity. Low-carbon construction and green technologies, among others, ensure this. These provide renewable energy, clean drinking water and fresh food.

The biodiverse heart of the site also plays a significant role in achieving these goals: the large urban park around which the other elements of the development are built. The park also offers a special topographical feature: as an elevated green corridor, it makes optimal use of the disused railway line to provide the neighbourhood and the entire city with a new green lung and a unique outdoor recreation area. Hundreds of trees will line the old railway line in the future, between which new walking paths will meander in lush greenery.

The elevated position allows unique views of Milan's urban space. Along the tracks there is also a species-rich forest and wetland zone, complemented by lively community gardens.

Here, residents can enjoy a range of activities in cooperation with Milan's environmental network Rotaie Verdi, which can enhance health and well-being. These open spaces are also in harmony with Milan's urban space - they are framed by city blocks with green courtyards, inspired by Milan's historic urban planning. Alongside this green development, a new commercial core is also being created for the city. The building ensembles are oriented towards the green corridor and the hanging forest. Sustainability also plays a major role in another context of the plans: the Athletes' Village of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan is to be adapted beyond its use in the competitions. The mixed-use residential area will initially house the athletes of the sporting competitions and will then be transformed into a permanent multi-generational residential community.

Connected to it is also a large public piazza, which will offer a variety of culinary, cultural and sporting activities. The piazza integrates historic railway repair sheds that will be extensively refurbished for the new development.

Green active mobility in focus

The expansion of the local infrastructure to include extensive new mobility solutions ensures optimal connectivity. In line with the sustainability goals, the architects place particular emphasis on promoting green mobility in the neighbourhood.

The way is cleared for pedestrians and cyclists, thus reducing the dependence on car traffic in the neighbourhood. The new corridors through the neighbourhood are connected to public squares. These serve as natural meeting points at the intersection of important pedestrian routes. The Parco Romana thus also follows the latest thinking on the 15-minute city in Milan. This principle aims to ensure that all places relevant to everyday life, such as shops, doctors' surgeries, services, kindergartens, schools, leisure and cultural facilities and the like, can be reached within 15 minutes on foot or by bicycle.

Author

Melanie Chahrour