OMA and Laboratorio Permanente win competition for scalo Farini in Milan

Two disused railway yards on the outskirts of the city will be transformed into green, “environmental machines” by a team led by the Dutch and Italian studios.

The team were announced the winners of the “Concorso Farini”  masterplan and regeneration of a large disused railway area at a press conference held at Palazzo Marino in Milan today. The project is part of a larger effort of the city to reactivate abandoned infrastructural areas that form a ring all around the city limits.

The competition specifically regards Scalo Farini (468.301 m²) and Scalo San Cristoforo (140.199 m²) and was launched in October 2018 by transport companies Ferrovie dello Stato, FS Sistemi Urbani S.r.l. and RFI, in collaboration with the municipality Milano, the Lombardy region and real estate agent Coima SGR.

The public elements of the scheme are fixed – a fragmented park at Farini and a linear waterway at San Cristoforo that act as “environmental machines” – but the form of the buildings and their use will be decided over a long consultation period, and based on Italy’s future economy. 

“The economy could be really good in five years or very bad so we tried to define a system that was able to respond to different economic shocks or fluctuations,” OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli told Domus. “The public space – the greenery and bridges – is a fixed part of the project but the rest can change, it can adapt, it can have different functions.”

“The value of cities is based not on the kind of architecture that can be expressed because that’s really fluctuating, but rather on the qualities of the environment it will be able to provide the citizens. That really shifts the land values. In Milan, areas that have a better climate are more valuable than areas that have worse climates,” he continued. “We are trying to reconcile a local transformation with a very local situation.” 

With an emphasis on public transport, the scheme plans to introduce the first cycle highway to the car-centric city. “There are just a few lines for cars, everything else is pedestrian,” Laboratorio Permanente co-founder Nicola Russi told Domus. “We included a new tram line and of course there will be metro stations and new bridges and highways for bicycles. We will experiment along the railway the longest expressway bicycle lane for the city.”

No start date has been given for the project. “It’s more about politicians and the economy,” explais Russi. “There will be a long phase of redefinition of the masterplan based on the comments of the stakeholders, the citizens,” adds Laparelli.

“In Milan they want to do this right. In London, many developments are run through really private approaches. This will be a long  process of readaptation of the masterplan and then each component will be based on more specific masterplans – each quarter will be developed with a specific competition and with specific parameters.”

OMA and Laboratorio Permanente are working with a number of partners on the project: Vogt Landscape Architects (China), Philippe Rahm Architectes (France), Net Engineering (Italy), Ezio Micelli (Italy), Arcadis Italia (Italy), Temporiuso.net (Italy) and Luca Cozzani (Italy).

The group was selected from a list of five finalists announced by the jury in December 2018, and included teams led by Baukuh (Italy), Arup (Italy), Grimshaw (United Kingdom) and Kengo Kuma and Associates Europe (France).

Dominique Perrault presided over the competition jury, whose members included Marco Vincenzo Broglia (engineer), Manfredi Catella (COIMA), Salvatore Crapanzano (engineer), Carlo De Vito (FS Group), Catherine Mosbach (architect and landscape architect, Filippo Salucci (architect, City of Milan).

The team led by Arup which included Snøhetta (Norway), Grant Associates (United Kingdom), Systematica (Italy) and Golder (Italy) received a special mention at today’s press conference.

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