Milan – When on the 31st of October 2015 Milan’s World Expo closed down, uncertainty loomed over the future of the site. The very successful event triggered the city’s economy putting Milan back on the map. Two years and one month later, Arexpo, the company owning the Expo site, revealed the futuristic masterplan for the venue which will become a theme park for science, knowledge and technology.
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Carlo Ratti Associati and Australian developer Lendlease won an international competition with a visionary project featuring a one-mile long linear park and the world’s first neighborhood planned for self-driving cars. The 1 million square meter plan sets up facilities for co-working, co-living, and co-making, as well as offices and research centers, university faculties, residences and cultural spaces, and areas for urban agriculture.
“Cities have always served as civilization’s most powerful engine of innovation.” Says Carlo Ratti. “Innovation is also at the core of our master plan, by which the former site of Milan World Expo will become a place where to experiment new ways of working, doing research, inhabiting spaces, enjoying life, and getting around – a green city to imagine a future that in turn can be unceasingly remodeled by the evolving needs of its inhabitants.”
The masterplan was developed according to three principles:
A VERDANT URBANSCAPE – “We see the park as the starting point for an urban regeneration project.” Explains Andrea Ruckstuhl, Managing Director of LendLease. The Decumanus – the Milan Expo’s East-West axis recalling the traditional Roman cities’ masterplans – is converted into a one-mile long park, one of the longest in Europe, around which all activities of the city unfold.
AUTONOMOUS MOBILITY – Starting from the Decumanus, The area’s streets and roads will become accessible to self-driving cars exclusively. According to Carlo Ratti, autonomous vehicles provide an efficient and sustainable solution for future mobility.
COMMON GROUND – “A city’s health comes from the intensity of its ground floor’s sidewalk ballet”. Plazas, pedestrian areas, shared vegetable gardens, laboratories and retail facilities All the ground floors of the whole masterplan are open to the public whether they are private or public. “This is how greatest Italian universities and the most thriving international campus are designed. The project extends this models to urban scale.”
The plan reflects also Milan’s urban history. The buildings are disposed creating alleys and courtyards like in the historic city centre while canals and waterways sideline verdant boulevards.
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As urban planning means thinking in the long term, the team worked on a design which does not impose models from above but allows flexible and scalable solutions for future developments. “We believe in an bottom-up approach to architecture.” Adds Carlo Ratti.. The masterplan was conceived as a scalable platform which can tune to future needs.
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All the the national pavilions at Expo Milano 2015 have been dismantled according to the World’s event policy. The only three structures which will be included in the new masterplan are the Italian Pavilion designed by Studio Nemesis, the Tree of Life which will keep stunning with music and light shows and the Cascina Triulza, a XIX century rural building traditional of the Po Valley.