Green Infrastructure 2014 Group F - The Darsena Area

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Implementing Green Infrastructure in the Darsena Area in Milan

Name Darsena Area
Country Italy
City Milan
Authors Elena Staffoni

Rationale: Why is this case interesting?

This case is very interesting for many reasons. This place is still today (for different purpose compared to the past) largely frequented and loved from the people. The place is one of the few space in the city that have a potential to became a green oasis with its own ecosystem, its strength is the water basin. The place has an intrinsic historic value for the city and for the inhabitants; through these waterways, from Candoglia (more than 100 Km away) in 1387 were carried the stone blocks necessary for the construction of the main cathedral of the city (the Duomo di Milano) for want of Galeazzo Visconti, the mayor of Milan.

Author's perspective

The city of Milan has not so much green spaces compared to other European cities like London, Berlin or München, although the area of Milan (1.982 km2; about 3.869.000 inhabitants) represents one of the largest European metropolitan areas. Overall, green spaces in Milan covers a surface of 15.20 km2; the average amount of green spaces per capita is approximately 11.60 m2. Different typology of parks and green spaces contribute to green infrastructure, from regional parks in fringe areas of the metropolitan zone to simple green spaces inside the urbanized areas. The city has a medieval implant, so there is not so much space (nor for new infrastructure nor for new buildings) in the city centre. Redeveloping this place could represent an interesting and healthy way to improve the quality of life in the area, for inhabitants and tourists. I live in Milan since 3 years. I always wondered why this area was not taken into account. I discovered that there is a social problem here, that go beyond the simple redevelopment of a city part. Once, the place was a kind of élite place, full of residences, small shops, art and artisan shops. Over time the place became the nucleus of the Milan nightlife. The little, picturesque shops disappear, giving way to pubs and clubs. The frequenters, one time mainly family and old people, are now mainly young people ,especially coming from out of town. This situation create a kind of decline for the place. The inhabitants complain frequently for the noises at night and for the new-born parking problem. I think it will be interesting to see which solution will be found, taking into account that in 2015 there will be the EXPO in Milan.

Landscape and/or urban context of your case


Milan normally experiences a Mediterranean climate with winters getting wet and cold, while summers are sweaty and hot. Metropolitan cities experience a 2-3 degree higher rise in temperature than in normality due to the urban heat island syndrome. In Milan people may experience an average temperature of +4 degree Celsius to +6 degree Celsius in January, which could heat up in between 15 to 28 degree Celsius in July. Snowfalls, a common happening in Milan, has decreased in the last 15-20 years due to the effects of Global Warming. The average snowfall during winter could pendulum between 30 to 40 cm. The greatest snowfall ever was recorded in January 1985 which was about 100 cm. The city’s climate which was mainly distinguished by its fog, due to the Po Basin effect has reduced considerably in the recent years due to lessened pollution and global warming. Milan is snuggled up in the lower plains of the Padana in the west-central Lombardy region of Italy. The rivers of Ticino, Po and Adda are an integral part of Milan’s province which is the first releases of the alpines. Milan occupied a total area of 181 sq.kms with a sea level rise of 122 m. The Milan city and metropolitan areas form the core industrial principal towns in Italy.


The city of Milan is at the center of a territory in between the rivers Ticino and Adda, large water ways that descend from the lakes Maggiore and Como. Unlike most thriving cities, Milan is not served by a major river. The construction of the artificial canal system started off with the outlining of the Naviglio Grande in 1179, linking Lake Maggiore of the Italian Alps with the region of Lombardia and the city of Milan via the Ticino River. Eventually, this complex water system was connected to the other major Northern Italian rivers Lambro, Adda, and the Po, which ultimately feeds into the Adriatic Sea. The Naviglio Grande was ingeniously developed to maximize natural rainfall, springs, and to drain marsh and swamp lands, as well as to irrigate former wasteland. The idea was also to connect the different cities that belonged to Milan, Abbiategrasso, Turbigo, Tornavento, Vizzola and others.The Naviglio Grande is often called 'il Ticinello', or the Little Ticino, because its water is drawn from the Ticino River. It connects Lake Maggiore, from the city of Sesto Calende, to the city of Milan. The watersystem became fully navigable in 1272 after an improvement of the canal making it wider and deeper. The Naviglio Grande made the movement of important items of commerce possible: grain, alt, wine, manufactured goods, coal, timber, livestock, cheese, hay, etc. The Naviglio Grande was used for troop and defense movement as well. The granite and marble used in the construction of the Dome of Milan was transported on the Naviglio Grande from the Alps. The canal did served as an irrigation system and as a mean of transportation, and also gave the population the possibility to fish and bathe in the water. The canal contributed to an improved health of the region, vegetation and crops in the newly irrigated farmland began to grow. The costruction of Naviglio grande was followed by the Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Martesana and these three canals were all connected through Milan via the Fossa Interna, also known as the Inner Ring. The urban section of the Naviglio Martesana was covered over in the beginning of the 1930s, together with the entire Inner Ring. Commercial carrying continued on the Naviglio Grande, but the decline was steady and by the sixties it was over for good. During the 18th and 19th C impressive villas and palaces with lush gardens were built along the canals. The elite of Milan constructed summer houses here, most of which still stand today. oday one can embark on tours of the Naviglio from Milan. The activity is intense along the Naviglio, especially on weekends. Fishing, hiking, biking, and walking are popular treats this beautiful environment offers.

  • Biogeography, cultural features, overall character, history and dynamics
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Analytical drawings

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Green Infrastructure benefits for this site

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Potential for multifunctionality

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Projective drawings

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  • And how could it look like in 10-15 years?
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Summary and conclusion

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