Piero Bottoni’s Milan

At a time when one of his iconic buildings, the one in Corso Sempione 33, could be irreversibly disfigured, we remember the architect’s devoted relationship to his city. From Domus 721.

This article was originally published on Domus 721, November 1990.

“One really must love Milan to have the courage to know the city and one must really know Milan to love it”. This is what Bottoni said in 1959, synthesizing in a few words the relationship between the architect and his city.

A city whose physical and social reality he knows well and for which he passionately and courageously sustained important political and cultural battles. His convinction of the social function of architecture keeps him constantly involved in the problem of houses and in particular that of public housing: the study on the dwelling unit and technological research go together with the study on urban areas, conceiving the suburbs, not in a condition of exclusion but as a natural expansion of the city projected in a metropolitan area.

Archivio Domus n. 721, novembre 1990
Domus Archive n. 721, November 1990, pages 232-233

The indissolubility of the couple architecture-town planning brings him to see the city as a unitary organism and not as a sequence of constructions; therefore he doesn't renounce indicating also with single building interventions, new urban models. At the same time, the collective feeling of the profession, privileges more than “the virtuosity of detail and style”, the relationship of balance with the built surroundings to which “the architect must submit himself to gain a notable collective result”.

One really must love Milan to have the courage to know the city and one must really know Milan to love it.

From this the care with which his own work is inserted in the urban context so that it harmoniously integrates without presumptuous impetuosity.


To illustrate, even summarily, Bottoni’s relationship with Milan, can’t be limited to a description of single achievements. Therefore we have included some projects that haven’t been realized and urbaniStic studies from which even if partial, spring forth proposals for anew city.

Proposals that are taken up in the AR. plan (the urbanistic plan for Milan, worked on with others during the clandes tine period) that itself influenced the debate of reconstruction and the Town Plan of 1953.

Claudio Camponogara, Fernanda Sabatelu

Archivio Domus n. 721, novembre 1990
Domus Archive n. 721, November 1990, pages 234-235

Completed works in Milan

Sopralzo Combi, via Settembrini, 1945-1949; Building, via Vigna 6, 1948-1950; Casa Zucchini, via Barzoni 1, 1948-1950; Building and sheds, via S. Geldino B, 1948-1950; Saccai system house, via Sant’Elia 62, 1952-1954; House, via Verro 80, 1951-1953; Belgian cottage extension, via Diomede 18, 1951-1955; Social center, via Pagano, 1954-1957; Comasina district buildings, 1955-1957; Star houses, via Cimabue, 1955-1959; Building for offices and housing, via Cannerò, 1960-1962: Reorganization of Bianchi headquarters, via Pentoli, 1961; Group garage, via Brentonico, 1961-1962; Building, via Resegone 3, 1962-1966; Monument to the  Resistance, piazza della Resistenze, Sesto S. Giovanni, 1962-1963.

Documentation related to his activities

Piero Bottoni Archive. Department of Architecture Design. Politecnico of Milan. Icfr P. Bottoni Archive, Descriptive guide, Clup, 1988 / General bibliography: G. Consonni, L. Meneghetti, L. Patene, Piero Bottoni. 40 anni di battaglie per l’architettura, Controspazio, 4 ott. 1973 / “Piero Bottoni e Milano, un intellettuale per la costruzione di una nuova città”, exhibition curated by Consonni, Meneghetti, Origoni and Tonon for the Provincial Festival of Unity, Milan, 1980 / 1930-42: La città dimostrativa del razionalismo europeo, curated by L. Carezzo and R. Pozzi, Franco Angeli, 1981. pp. 250-271 / G. Tonon, Piero Bottoni: le ragioni del Moderno, in QD, Quaderni del Dipartimento di Progettazione dell’Architettura, Politecnico of Milan, 1988, Clup., pp. 32-43 / AA.W. Piero Bottoni highschool name, Edistudio, Milan, 1988 / G. Tonon, Piero Bottoni. Gli anni della formazione tra modernità e tradizione, in Urbanistica, n. 95. giu. 1989. pp. 45-56 / G. Tonon, Estetica d’assieme. La complexity of rationalism in the documents of the Archivio P. Bottoni, C. Carpeggiani, L Paletta (a cura di). The design in architecture, Guerini e assoc., Milan, 1989, pp. 109-114 / G. Consonni, L Meneghetti, G. Tonon (a cura di), Piero Bottoni: Opera completa, Fabbri Editori, Milan, 1990.

Opening image: Ina-casa in via San Giusto in the Harar district, Piero Bottoni with Mario Morini and Carlo Villa, Milan, 1951-53. Courtesy Archivio Piero Bottoni, Dastu, Politecnico di Milano

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